Quietly, in the afternoon of Saturday, August 24, 2019, in his 97th year, at St Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto, surrounded by his family. Anton (Tony) was born on January 8, 1923 in Velika Nedelja, Slovenia, formerly Yugoslavia. Tony was predeceased last year by his wife of 60 years, Michele, and by his three younger siblings in Slovenia. Beloved father of Tina Jennings, cherished grandfather of Alexandra, Michael and Katya Jennings, and dear great-grandfather of Alasdair Anton Jennings. Fondly remembered by his former son-in-law Stephen Jennings of New Zealand. Tony died of respiratory complications resulting from pneumonia, after a brief struggle.
Tony was determinedly independent in all aspects of his long life. He insisted on living alone in his old age, remaining in his own home until the end, and last weekend was still driving, gardening, cooking, climbing ladders, setting raccoon traps, and reading the Saturday Star in its entirety. The early years of Tony’s life had been difficult ones. Captured and wounded in Berlin in April 1945, in the final days of World War II, Tony spent a couple of years in a Soviet POW camp in East Germany. After a release of wartime prisoners back to poverty-stricken Yugoslavia, he trained to become a mechanic. When the limitations of communist Yugoslavia became too much for Tony’s independent nature, he escaped on foot across the Yugoslav border to Austria in the late 1940’s and lived there for a few years before hearing about a ship bound for Canada in 1951, and the promise of jobs and a new life. Tony spent his first five years in Canada working in the nickel mines of Noranda, Quebec, before returning to Europe to find a wife. Having met and married Michele in Graz, Austria in November 1957, they returned to Canada together and settled in Toronto’s west end in 1958, on Willard Avenue in their beloved Swansea-High Park neighbourhood. Their only child, Tina, was born in 1969. Tony worked for many years as a large-vehicle mechanic and supervisor for the City of York, working all shifts, and eventually retiring in 1988. He was obsessed with his succession of Volkswagen campervans, and was determined to take his family all over North America, spending holidays criss-crossing from coast to coast. Every year, well into his 70’s, he made homemade wine in his backyard from the Zinfandel grapes he imported from California, and his wine cellar was always well stocked.
His retirement was an enjoyable one and he was fortunate to have been able to travel extensively in the last three decades, to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Russia, England, and all over Europe. His annual pilgrimages to his beloved Bled, Slovenia, where he would stay for months on end in the summer surrounded by the mountains and valleys, contributed a great deal of joy, friendships old and new, ruddy health, accordion music, and undoubtedly, longevity. He will be deeply missed by his many good friends both there and in Canada. In his last years, he adored spending time with his little great-grandson Alasdair Anton, a cherished and unexpected gift from his grand-daughter Sasha in Toronto.
Our family is profoundly grateful for the valiant efforts undertaken to save Tony’s life by Dr Dominic Lehnert of St Joseph’s Health Centre, who, despite Tony’s advanced age, pulled out all the stops in those final days in his care, and by the outstanding nursing team at St Joe’s notably John Paul, Tian, Melanie, Bogumila, and Pam at the end. We are also grateful to his longtime physicians, Dr Bohdan Olearczyk and Dr Milutin Drobac.
A visitation will take place on Thursday, August 29, 2019 from 7-9pm at the Turner & Porter Funeral Home, 2357 Bloor Street West, and also on Friday morning, 10-11am. A service to celebrate Tony’s life will follow on Friday, August 30, at 11am in the Yorke Chapel of the Turner & Porter Funeral Home. Private family interment at Mount Pleasant Cemetery to follow cremation at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Society for the Preservation of Slovenian Alpine Accordion Music, or to the charity closest to your heart. Online condolences may be made through www.turnerporter.ca