COAL VALLEY, Ill. - Charles W. Toney, 96, of Coal Valley, Illinois, died Wednesday, October 28, 2009, at Heartland Health Care Center, Moline. Memorial services in celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, November 3rd, at Weerts Funeral Home, Kimberly at Jersey Ridge, Davenport, where the family will greet friends from noon until time of service.
Mr. Toney was born in 1913 to Wilber and Stella Toney in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. A 1930 graduate of Clinton (Iowa) High School, he attended St. Ambrose University, Davenport. He married Ann Palmer on December 17, 1943 in Davenport, and together they had one of the first Black businesses in the Quad City area, with a beauty/barber shop in central city Davenport. Chuck & Ann had the only in-ground swimming pool in the inner city and allowed neighborhood youth to come in and learn to swim as admission to other public pools was not possible for Blacks at the time. Chuck and Ann published a magazine for a period named Sepia Record with a focus on racial minorities.
Mr. Toney started working for Deere in 1936 at John Deere Malleable Works. Because of his work ethic and determination to "get ahead," he was sent by the company to welding school and became the first welder of color in Iowa or Illinois. He subsequently worked as a welder for almost 20 years at Deere. He left the company in 1945 to pursue an interest in labor organizing and worked in the A. Philip Randolph organization, returning to Deere in 1947. In 1964 he transferred to Deere & Company as a personnel representative. In 1968, he was promoted to Mgr. Minority Relations and then became the first African American at an executive level when he was appointed Director Affirmative Action in 1972.
Chuck was a national leader in equal opportunity efforts, programs and results. He initiated one of the first voluntary affirmative action plans in the nation with goals and timetables used at Deere prior to those which later became mandatory under federal laws. He helped initiate industry cluster programs at many historically Black Colleges and Universities. Chuck initiated and oversaw corporate wide recruiting efforts at historically Black Colleges. He established and instituted local secondary programs such as Q-C Scholars, Home Grown Engineers, and Q-C Merit Employment Council.
Chuck was involved in and served in a leadership capacity in numerous community and civic affairs and organizations including but not limited to Pres. NAACP, Pres. Catholic Inter-racial Council, Commissioner, Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Chair, Human Rights & Employment Practices Committee of the Iowa Association of Business & Industry, and others. Chuck spoke to endless local and national forums on Civil Rights, EEO, and corporate social responsibility. Chuck has been recognized numerous times for his successes and recognition of support for others including but not limited to: Honorary Doctorate Degree for Public Service from St. Ambrose University (1975), Charles W. Toney Scholarship Award at Southern University, and noted recognition in the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa (Cedar Rapids). Chuck became known throughout the Midwest as the Dean of Affirmative Action. He was known and respected locally, regionally and nationally for his leadership in this field.
Chuck retired in 1983 following 42 years of distinguished service to the corporation and the community. He continued to give counsel in the area of EEO and civil rights drawing from his years of significant experiences in the field.
Chuck was an avid golfer, belonging to area golf clubs. He achieved the ultimate prize of a hole-in-one three times.
He is survived by his wife Ann Toney of Moline; son Charles N Toney, Davenport, honorary daughter Lonnie White, St Louis, Mo., grandchildren, Lynn Toney, Bettendorf, IA, and Eric Toney, Davenport; great grandchildren Breanna and Isiah. A multitude of special friends.
The family would like to send a special thank you to the CNAs, nurses and staff at Heartland Healthcare in Moline for the care they showed Chuck.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The First Tee Quad Cities (www.thefirstteequadcities.org), the United Negro College Fund (www.uncf.org) or the charity of your choice.