Nicknamed “Bones” in grade school, Tony A. was the skinniest kid on the block in Ft. Scott, Kan., in the ’80s. But that didn’t dampen his competitive spirit.
“He was the kid who outplayed everyone at ball practice,” says his lifelong friend and Modern Woodmen representative, Josh Oberley, Iola, Kan.
Tony relied on that determined spirit throughout his life. After college, he built a successful career in the hotel/hospitality business. His work eventually took him to Iowa, where he met his wife, Ann. The couple lived in the Kansas City area for a while, later settling in Waukee, Iowa.
When the couple’s first two children, Kailee and Garrett, arrived, Tony’s income supported the family while Ann was a full-time mom. Tony had some life insurance through his job, but he and Ann worked with Josh to purchase individual coverage from Modern Woodmen.
“We got the life insurance and then we didn’t worry much about it,” Ann says. “It is exactly what it is – insurance for what if and when if.”
Facing life, and death, head on
The couple had a third child, Jackson, in 2004. In April 2005, what was first noticed as an odd feeling in Tony’s ear was diagnosed as a cancerous brain tumor.
Ever the fighter, Tony continued to live his life, working and attending his kids’ events between surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the next seven years.
In September 2012, he traveled back to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to try another round of radiation. He died Sept. 16.
Leaving a legacy
When the end was near, Josh had driven to Iowa to spend some time visiting his friend. After Tony died, Josh helped Ann with the death benefits claim.
“We were able to pay for his funeral,” Ann says, “and he’d wanted money put aside for the kids to go to college. The rest will be invested, and we’ll be able to use it for many years.”
Ann and the children, now 12, 10 and 8 years old, are able to stay in the family home. To gain health benefits, Ann had found a job at a local school when Tony was no longer able to work. “It’s not high-paying,” she says, “but with Tony’s insurance, I don’t need that. I can keep the job that’s most convenient for our family.”
Though cut short, Tony’s life made a lasting impact.
“‘No excuses!’ The kids heard their dad say this many times,” Ann says. “We’re given a lot in life, and sometimes we get bad things with the good things. That doesn’t mean you get to give excuses or give up. You just have to keep going. Tony did that very, very well.”