Lawrence Donner Toney was born March 29, 1899 in Virden, Illinois. His father was Thomas Benton Toney, born in Ohio in 1851. His mother was Ivy "Iva" June Organ, born in Illinois in 1858. They were married in 1885. Ivy was his father's second wife. The first wife, Catherine M. Thomas, died after giving birth to his older step-brother Thomas Ellsworth Toney in 1883. Lawrence was the youngest of his father's three children. His older brother Marshall Albin Toney was born in 1886. They lived at 311 South Blair Street, Virden, IL.
His father was a grocery merchant, but after a few years he became a prosperous dealer in local real estate with his own office.
In June 1918 Lawrence graduated from high school. In September he moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute of Chicago.
He reported for draft registration in the Great War on September 12, 1918, at which time he was recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with light blue eyes and blond hair. He had no physical disabilities, but he was not selected for military service.
In 1924 he finished his art training in Chicago and then moved to New York City.
In 1925 he began to paint covers for The Saturday Evening Post. He went on to paint twelve covers for that magazine. He also painted covers for This Week, which was a weekly magazine produced by The New York Herald Tribune.
On November 27, 1926 he married Alice June Hennessy of 31 Hamilton Avenue in Auburn, New York. She was a graduate of the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Oral Hygiene.
They moved to 64 Ludlow Road in Westport, Connecticut, for which they paid sixty-dollars monthly rent. He also opened an art studio in the towm, which was popular location for many important New York illustrators, such as Harold Von Schmidt, Amos Sewell and John Clymer.
On the Fourth of July, 1928 their son Thomas Benton Toney, II, was born. He and his son were active in the Boy Scouts. His son often spent the summer months at their grandmother's house in Auburn, NY. His son and his wife posed for many of his paintings.
During the 1930s and 1940s he painted covers for pulp magazines, such as Clues, Complete Stories, Western Story, and Wild West Weekly, all of which were published by Street & Smith Publishing Company. Most of his work for pulp magazines were signed only with his initials "L.D.T." This may have helped to disguise his work for the low-paying pulp magazine ndustry in order to preserve his more lucrative career in the slick magazine industry.
During WWII he painted several patriotic posters for recruitment, war bonds, and the U.S.O.
After the war he concentrated on painting portrait commissions, including a portrait of President Eisenhower.
In the 1950s he left Westport, CT, and moved to 221 Nyac Avenue in Pelham Manor, which is in Westchester County, New York. Mrs. Toney became the chairperson of the Art Section of the Manor Club.
By 1952 their son had returned from Army military service in the Korean War and had married and moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Lawrence and Alice began to spend their winter months of each year in Santa Fe, NM, near their son and three grandchildren.
After his retirement from portrait painting, he painted Post-Impressionist landscapes of the Southwest.
Lawrence Toney died in Pelham Manor, NY, at the age of seventy-one on June 2, 1970.
© David Saunders 2009