To this day, “Big Daddy” still requires a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream before bed.
And he is 100 years old.
Ivan Toney Sr. celebrated his centennial recently and he was served his favorite dessert by family and friends to mark the occasion at the Floyd E. “Tut” Fann Veterans Home. The Triana Historical Society sponsored a celebratory program that included presentations and gifts by Madison County Commissioner Violet Edwards, 1st Sgt. Larry Jackson of Lee High JROTC, Historic Huntsville Foundation, Zeta Phi Beta Sororit Inc. Delta Omega Zeta Chapter, and the North Alabama Veterans and Fraternal Organizations Coalition.
Wrapping up the program was a drive-by parade featuring the Buffalo Soldiers 10th Cavalry Reenactment.
Toney served in the Army from 1944-46 where he was stationed in the Philippines and Western Atlantic and worked in chemical warfare. Upon his discharge, he returned home to Alabama and worked at Redstone Arsenal until retiring.
Born Feb. 3, 1922, in Madison County, Toney was reared on a farm by his grandparents, Alex and Eva Fullenwider. In 1940, he met Mattie Irving at New Hope School in Limestone County.
“They were sweethearts from the start,” said his grandson, Dr. Kerry Weaver.
On March 20, 1941, he married Mattie Irving. They were married for 77 years before she died in 2018. They had five children: Mahalia Toney Warner, Ivan Toney Jr., Harris Lee Toney, Catherine Toney and Pearlie Toney Jones.
“(He) was an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener,” Weaver said. “Upon his retirement, they would load the boat and go spend hours at ‘buckeye and the ditch,’ catching catfish and brims.”
Weaver said his grandfather was known throughout the community for his generosity.
“After ensuring that his family was taken care of, he would share with the community,” he said. Toney was the first person on his street to own a car and he and his wife would provide the transportation for the neighborhood.
To his grandchildren, Toney was known for his signature “call” to the chickens and the hogs. “Their feeding time was one of their most memorable moments of growing up,” Warner said.
During the late fall, the entire family would gather to partake in the process of making sausage, cleaning chitterlings, and frying pork skins. It was indeed a family affair.
Sunday dinner was the highlight of the week at the Toney home, Warner said. And the tradition has carried on for more than 50 years. Dinner was prepared to perfection for his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and anyone who stopped by.
And, of course, when the meal was finished, everyone knew it was time to get “Big Daddy” his bowl of vanilla ice cream.