Teona Tone Schley

Date of Birth

July 11, 1944

Date of Death

January 8, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara, CA

Teona Tone Schley passed away on January 8, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California, exactly five years to the day after her beloved husband Wolcott.

Teona had a number of roles in life: mother, wife, rancher, horsewoman, librarian, teacher, newspaper editor, and magazine publisher. She was “friendly, fair, and sometimes ferocious.” Yet few who knew her in the Santa Ynez Valley had any idea that long ago in Los Angeles, Teona was also a private detective and a published murder mystery novelist.

Teona was born in Abilene, Texas to Pearl Teona Hill and Irvine Eugene Tone, both of Minnesota. She was the eldest child, followed by Richard, Sonja and Daniel. She attended high school at Augustana Academy (‘64) in Canton, South Dakota where she was an honors student. She then attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she married Phillip Oliver Sidney and gave birth to their son, Kent. She went on to attend John Muir College at UC San Diego, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English in 1972. Teona became an outspoken advocate for student’s and women’s rights and published an underground student newspaper that promoted libertarianism. A lifelong love of journalism and the critical role of the fourth estate in American culture sprung from there…

Teona earned a Ph.D. in English and Art History at UCLA in 1977. She continued publishing her underground newspaper, organized guest lectures with Tibor Machan and Ayn Rand, and spoke on discussion panels with other activists. She was awarded the UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year Award for her department in 1977. While teaching English at UCLA and UCSB, Teona wrote multiple manuscripts, play treatments, short stories, and children’s stories. She worked for two detective agencies before founding her own agency with her second husband, Larry Gneiting.
In the early 1980s Teona published two murder mysteries, Lady on the Line and Full Cry, featuring heroine detective Kyra Keating. She began working on a sequel with her daughter in 2020. Full Cry is being republished by Polyverse Publications in 2023.

Teona had a love of horses since early childhood. She met the love of her life and future husband of 35 years, Wolcott Schley, during a foxhunt in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1982. The couple’s daughter, Jessica, was born in 1984. In 1991, they adopted their son Daniel when he was 3.5 years old.
In 1989, Wolcott and Teona joined the staff of the Los Padres Sun Newspaper, and later became its joint editors-in-chief. They ran the newspaper together until 1996, when they took over publication of the popular Santa Ynez Valley Guest magazine, which they published together for 20 more years.. They shared a deep love of the written word, as well as the Santa Ynez Valley. Publishing their local magazine was a passion, and fostered many personal connections throughout the area; yet, their newspaper days were what they considered the highlight of their life. The free exchange of ideas, the critical importance of open public discourse, and the role of the fourth estate in maintaining accountability and transparency of local government, burned deep within both of them. They cared passionately about the importance of independent local newspapers.

Teona loved to host visitors at the family ranch, serving fresh lemonade from the Meyer lemon tree, touring people through the barn to meet the horses, guiding them on trail rides, and inviting them along in the ranch truck to feed the cows. One of Teona’s favorite things was a family ride into the sunset.

Teona is survived by her eldest son Kent Sidney (father of Meiya Sidney), her daughter Jessica Schley, and her son Daniel Schley (father of Oliver Wolcott Schley), as well as by her own three siblings – Richard, Sonja and Daniel Tone, and their children.

Of all that she did in her life, Teona loved to say that her three beloved children were her greatest accomplishment, and that Wolcott was the great love of her life.


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