Antonia “Toni” M. Brown (60) born December 5, 1960 to the late Winford and Orlean
Rucker in Phoenix, Arizona, departed her earthly home, transitioning to her heavenly
home in Glory to be with the Lord on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 surrounded by her
Toni was married to Melvin Merritt and upon his untimely death, after many years,
God blessed her to meet and join together in holy matrimony to Samuel Brown. From
these unions were born Terrell, Melyne, Tara, Samantha and Simone.
For the past 14 years, Toni worked for the New York State Assembly as an
Administrative Aid for assemblymen Charles D. Lavine and loved her job. Toni had
many talents and skills. She was a licensed cosmetologist for many years. She
attended classes at SUNY Schenectady County Community College where she studied
voice and African American Music Appreciation, obtaining her music certificate. For
over 40 years Toni worked with young people in the community introducing them to
the arts. She taught music, voice training, and dance. For many of the youth, she was
affectionately known as just, “Aunt Toni”.
Toni began singing and directing at Wilborn Temple, facilitated a praise and worship
workshop, and was one of the lead singers on the album entitled SUCH JOY! It was
evident very early on that she possessed something special and she was gifted by God
to sing. She was praise and worship leader for many other ministries in the Capital
Toni shared that anointed gift with the body of Christ whenever she was asked to
because she knew that was what God Called, Appointed and Anointed her to do. That
was to be a blessing to people, not only in the church but other venues as well. She
shared God’s gift on television, radio, concert halls, in the park and abroad, the
Bahamas and Japan. She helped facilitate gospel music workshops for Rucker Gospel
Ministries in Japan, teaching and directing choirs, performing solos and leading
praise and worship dance. She also recorded with Ronnie Rucker and Bright Lights
Toni was unquestionably a worshipper. She lived her life to praise and worship God
in the beauty of holiness. She would often say “I just want to be closer to God” and she
proved it by the way she walked. Toni was involved in so many areas as relating to
ministry. She wrote songs of worship, wrote and performed/ministered in plays and
facilitated praise and worship workshops. She always reminded you that “Praise and
Worship is a Ministry not a Competition”.
Women of Worship [WOW] was a ministry comprised of women from various
churches within the Capital District that was formed by Toni. WOW was not just a
choir, it was a safe place where women were taught the word of God, healed, delivered
and set free.
Toni was a loyal and beloved member of the Metropolitan New Testament Mission
Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Damone Paul Johnson. She was
leader of the praise and worship team; director of the Metro Stars and Drake Chorus;
Summer Music camp music teacher; and coordinator of the Annual Men and
Projects by Toni: a play written and performed by Toni was “Waiting to Meet the
Groom” (ten wise/foolish virgins); “Only What You Do for Christ”; The Pilgrimage of
African American Music History Project, a celebration of the contributions of the
African slave on African music from the 17th century through present day; just to
name a few.
Toni leaves to celebrate her life and mourn her passing, her husband of 31 years,
Samuel R. Brown; her children, Terrell Merritt of Troy, NY, Melyne (Vaughan)
Howell of Staten Island, NY, Tara Merritt, Samantha Brown, and Simone Brown of
Albany, NY; her dearly loved and cherished grandchildren, Zaraya, Antonaia, Isis,
Kaziah, Kingston, Vaughan, King, Gabriel, Evadne; her little angel, great grandson,
Zyrell; her siblings, Marcia Chandler, Bill (Mittie) Rucker, Ronnie (Yoko) Rucker,
Roger Rucker, Garland Rucker and Maurice Rucker; special sister/cousins, Tammy
Taylor and Theresa Ford; godchildren, Wandejah, Roman and Samara; many nieces
and nephews; godmother Geneva Conway; a host of nephew, nieces, cousins and
friends. Toni was predeceased by her parents, Winford and Orlean Rucker; and two
brothers Winford and John Rucker.
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