Antonia A. "Toni" Straubel, age 91, of Battle Creek, Michigan died peacefully at her home on Sunday, January 15, 2023. She was born January 26, 1931 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the daughter of Theodore and Augusta Antonia (Van Gin) Schluter. Antonia worked as a seamstress in Amsterdam and then sold Avon in the United States for many years, while also selling many of her crafts at craft shows over the years. She loved to sew and all types of arts & crafts.
Antonia, commonly known as "Toni," was a Dutch immigrant from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Toni is the historical matriarch of our family who survived Hitler's Occupation of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Toni along with her parents resided in the Jewish neighborhood of Amsterdam. Toni was only nine years old when the gestapo marched into their neighborhood and brutally killed several friends and neighbors in front of her and her parents as they were forcefully removed from their homes and lined up in the streets. The gestapo came along and shot her close friend and her friends parents standing next to my Oma. This event contributed to her hearing loss, along with the daily bombings. Toni and her parents were active members of their community helping several of their Jewish friends and neighbors to hide and/or help escape the "Final Solution" of Amsterdam.
Toni's parents instilled in their daughter kindness, acceptance, diversity, honesty, and forgiveness by mentoring as examples. Toni lived with death, destruction, daily bombings, and gestapo terrorism on their neighborhood and country for five years. Toni and her parents survived without necessities or food for the entire time of Hitler's occupation from May 1940 to May 1945. Toni was 14 years old when Amsterdam was liberated, but not a child â as she was forced to grow up much older than her years. Toni and her parents survived the "Winter Hunger" (famine). Our family is a miracle as result of Antonia's strength and courage to survive this historical period of time where death was daily experience. Toni taught and mentored her children and grandchildren the importance of tolerance and education of cultural diversities. Toni migrated to America in the 1950's to forge an incredible life and journey with her husband and best friend Gerald Straubel, until his death in August 2017. Toni commonly reminded her family how blessed we were to be born in America and the opportunities we had. Toni lived her life "I lived with death and never planned a future, I am blessed to be alive and survived." Toni never forgot her history; moreover, reminded us of how fortunate we were to be able to make a life without War.
Toni was united in marriage to Gerald Lee "Jerry" Straubel on September 4, 1955 in Albion, Michigan; he sadly preceded her in death on July 24, 2017, after more than 61 years of marriage. Surviving are two sons, Greg L. (Sherri) Straubel of Williams, Oregon, Leroy A. (Helen) Straubel of Battle Creek; daughter, Olga; five grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild. She was also preceded in death by her parents.
A memorial gathering will be held Sunday, February 26, 2023 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care. Personal messages for the family may be placed at www.farleyestesdowdle.com