Tonia Eileen Lesh (Tarr), formerly of Reno, PA, passed away on September 27, 2020 at Akron General Hospital, at the age of 81.
Born January 3, 1938 in Franklin, PA to George E. Tarr and Anna Eileen Tarr (Saltzman) of Reno, PA, Tonia was the eldest of 8 children. She graduated from Rocky Grove High School and was married briefly to Lee Lesh of Oil City, PA, after which time she relocated to Los Angeles, CA.
Tonia lived for many years in West Los Angeles, working in the ROTC program at the University of California, Los Angeles until a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis prompted her to choose a new direction. Despite the ongoing and worsening effects of arthritis, Tonia returned to school and obtained both her Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees in Psychology. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA, and began a new career working to provide support and direction to the residents of Santa Monica and Venice, CA. She was a fierce advocate and a hands-on counselor for the homeless and a stalwart champion of their rights.
In addition to her new role, Tonia was very involved in the Arthritis Foundation, serving on the board and promoting the organization and its goals via the newsletter. She also helped to further the search for new arthritis treatments as a participant in several experimental trials through UCLA. Tonia loved figure skating and attended many live competitions, even meeting with and maintaining friendships with some of the athletes. Gifted with a beautiful singing voice, she frequently showcased her talents at the local piano bar, quickly becoming a crowd favorite. She traveled throughout California and to Hawaii and Nevada, making friends of strangers wherever she went. She loved old movies and had a passion for reading, was interested in everyone and every new idea, and had the rare gift of listening, without comment or judgement, to all who needed an open ear. She was fiercely passionate about politics, both local and national, and took an active role in seeing elected those she felt would best serve the needs of the community and the country.
After 40 + years in Los Angeles, Tonia retired and returned to the East to live with her sister Carmelita Denowski (Tarr) and family in Akron, OH, and enjoy her large, extended family in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Tonia is survived by 4 brothers and 3 sisters: Carmelita & husband Jon Denowski, Akron, Ohio, George Tarr & Debbie (Baker) of Reno, PA, Thomas Tarr & wife Susan (Singer) of Titusville, John Tarr and Cinda (Bimber) of Warren, PA, Maria Tarr & Lynn Muschick of Franklin, Pa, Kim Tarr of Reno, PA, and Michelle Tarr of Crafton, PA and many loving , nieces and nephews. Also surviving are her dear friends and extended family, Patty Quinn, Marilyn Smith, Maria Welborn and Patty Burns on the west coast, and Mugs Weaver (Disque) of Franklin, PA. She was predeceased by her parents and her ex-husband, Lee Lesh.
Per her wishes, cremation has taken place. Please share your thoughts and condolences by visiting her Tribute Wall above.
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