It was a lengthy obituary, one that was warranted, in last week’s Landmark regarding the late Anthony “Tony” Bednarz, who passed away May 21.
Attending his funeral Mass at St. Mary Church, where Tony had been a lifelong member, I started to recall how I knew Tony. Looking around at those assembled, it occurred to me I probably knew him longer than anyone in attendance.
Tony and I had gone to school at St. Mary’s since first grade. We were together in the same class all eight years. I have a class picture which shows us in third grade, sitting at our desks. That is how the pictures were taken back then.
We didn’t wear uniforms but we were all dressed in a way that would make all grandparents proud, boys with nice shirts, some wore ties, and girls in nice dresses. There were over 30 students in the picture.
What was amusing to me was that none of us were smiling — serious faces and hands folded on the desk. Everyone was friends with each other and I don’t remember any bullying.
When we made our communion and confirmation, Tony’s mother, Florentine, was in charge of purchasing religious articles for making our sacraments.
As we grew up our paths would cross. I had met his future wife, Marianne, before she married Tony when she was on a college search and was looking at Marymount College in Salina, Kansas, where I was a student. So it was nice when we became reacquainted when she married Tony.
Tony was always close with his family, and if you wanted to see him you went to Bednarz Ace Hardware on East Burlington Street. You would find him working along with his father, also Anthony, his mom Florentine, his brother Paul and, if you were lucky, his grandmother, Jennie Doman. They knew their stuff, and don’t we all wish we still had the hardware store?
When it came to running the fire department, they could not have picked a better person. Tony knew his job and worked to make it top-notch. I remember being called to a meeting to discuss Riverside getting an ambulance. At the time, they had been using a station wagon to transport patients to the hospital.
Tony had called a number of people to plead the case for an ambulance. Tony had his facts and Riverside got its ambulance. Looking around the church and seeing Tony’s family, it was clear Riverside meant a lot to him and he meant a lot to Riverside.
Thanks, Tony, glad to have known you all these years.