NCRA Member and NCRF Angel Antonia “Toni” Pulone, Past President of the California Deposition Reporters Association (CalDRA), CalDRA Distinguished Service Award recipient, and longtime CalDRA Legislative Chair, passed away this August after a long battle with cancer.
In the history of the California Deposition Reporters Association, no court reporter has had a more profound impact on, or made more significant contributions to, the organization and its membership. Serving as CalDRA’s “Depo Diplomat” for many seasons, Toni lent her years of expertise to providing authority on the most difficult ethical and legal dilemmas in the field of court reporting. If a definitive opinion was sought for a particular issue or predicament, Toni could always be counted on to deliver sage, accurate, and insightful advice to a member in need. Anyone who has ever emailed her for guidance can attest to this. A thorough exploration of the situation would follow, along with sanguine advice and a tone that left you comforted and armed with enough information to move forward in a thoughtful manner.
Toni’s expertise extended well beyond the realm of her role as Depo Diplomat, however. Her vast knowledge of the California codes and their application to the profession also ensured that she was the single most prolific (and popular!) speaker at CalDRA seminars and conventions throughout the years, often being up on the dais for three discrete seminars in a single weekend. And the pearls would flow. Her encyclopedic recall of all things legislation, including bills in other states, guaranteed a lively and informative discussion whenever she was at the helm. And her energy was infectious. She never seemed to tire in her zest for the good fight, even after decades in the arena, most of it on the front lines.
And Toni was not just an icon in California. She was a national treasure, often called upon to either serve on or co-chair an NCRA committee or two, and on many an occasion invited to speak both nationally and at conventions for other states’ associations. She and her agency, Pulone Reporting Services, were also Angels of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) for 13 years running. Toni’s name has garnered the respect of our colleagues across this nation for many years running, thanks to her continual volunteerism, expertise, and dedication to the profession.
On a grand scale, perhaps more important than a long and impressive list of professional achievements, was Toni, the person. Strong, smart, funny, intuitive – she was the friend you counted on for an ear, for a hug, for a smile. She was tough but never a bully; analytical but never denigrating. In true vivacious Italian fashion, she talked with her hands; she was always elegant and polished; her chunky jewelry collection had no equal. Toni was pure class.
But perhaps her qualities were best summed up by her dear friend and colleague Ed Howard, who worked alongside her for nearly 15 years on legislative matters.
“I admired and loved that woman very much. Intellectually brilliant, sure. But smart people aren’t rare. It was Toni’s elegant, graceful goodness as a person that was so unique and, to me, both the source of her charisma and a humbling and inspiring example to me, always, and every time I spoke with her. Maybe the most consequential member of your profession … well, maybe ever.”
We, not only as court reporters but simply as people, owe not only our eternal gratitude to Toni, but also to her husband, Steve Walwyn, who so selflessly shared her bright light with us for so many years. With so much time and energy spent on protecting the profession, it had to have cut into the time they might have otherwise spent together. But somehow, Toni never wavered. Her dedication to our profession and its betterment was steadfast as she helped raise her baby, CalDRA. We extend our sincerest condolences and thanks to Steve for allowing Toni to be part of our court reporting family for so many years. Our hearts are with you, Steve.
Godspeed, beautiful Antonia Pulone. We love you, we miss you, and we will never, ever forget you. We will do our best to honor and continue the important work that was your life’s mission. You can now be at peace.