Local officials react to Supervisor Anday’s death

“He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in, and it’s very sad he’s no longer with us.”

By Brandi Makuski

The death of Portage Co. Board Supervisor Anton Anday (District 14) hit many in municipal government, even those who knew he was ill, hard. 

During his 40-some years of public service to the community, Anday volunteered his time to help shape the future of Portage County’s government and natural environment. He spent over 30 years teaching social studies and history in the Stevens Point Area Public School District and helped develop the Teen Leadership of Portage County program. He helped restore and protect the county’s history through his work at the Portage County Historical Society.

Anday was in attendance during a May meeting of the Portage Co. Executive Operations Committee when he began to feel faint. Portage Co. deputies in attendance that night summoned an ambulance, which took Anday to the hospital for treatment.

“And wouldn’t you know it, he showed up at the Village of Plover meeting the next night,” said County Board Chairman Al Haga, chuckling. “But that was Anton—you couldn’t keep him away.”

Haga said Anday was one of the few electeds he’s worked with who had no hidden agendas. He was just driven by a desire to participate.

“He was just 100 percent in it. He wasn’t in it for any reason other than what he believed would make the community better. He believed it, lived it, showed it, proved it his actions,” Haga said. “He was the definition of public service.”

Haga said Anday’s experience emigrating to America from Hungary in 1959 made him an ideal member for the county’s new Diversity and Inclusivity Affairs Committee.

“It was important for him to share feelings or thoughts of incidents that he lived through. That’s what he brought to that committee,” Haga said. “People usually wanted to hear what he had to say, and he had a pretty good way of putting it so that everybody wanted to listen. All you had to do was listen and you learned something from him.”

The Committee is chaired by Supervisor Meleesa Johnson, who called Anday’s passing “devastating.”

Johnson said her view of Anday was likely clouded by the fact she took his history class at Ben Franklin Jr. High when she was 13 years old.

“I kind of revered him, I kind of put him on this pedestal,” she said. “He brought that presence, I think, to the County Board. It was distinguished, always measured and thoughtful, and considerate. He would carefully use his words to address an issue while sometimes bringing really critical feedback. He was a gentleman—that’s how I saw him, distinguished, a gentleman, But he could be really striking in his criticism, but it was always done in a way that was respectful.”

Johnson said Anday was “an anchor” for her during a difficult period of adolescence, and she believed he did the same for thousands of other students.

In 2020, Anday offered to be a County Board liaison for the Plover Board of Trustees. At each of the Village Board’s two monthly meetings, Anday would update the trustees on county-related news. 

Steve Kunst, community development director for Plover, said while he didn’t work with Anday for long, he knew immediately that Anday was passionate about his work.

“He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in, and it’s very sad he’s no longer with us,” Kunst said. 

Anday was an elected Plover Trustee himself, serving the village from 1999-2020, stepping down shortly after being elected to the County Board. It was during this time that he became closer with Plover Administrator Dan Mahoney. 

“Anton was a wonderful person who cared deeply about the people, places, and history of Portage County,” Mahoney said. “He taught many generations of students, who continue to have fond memories of him to this day. Anton was the consummate teacher, even after his ‘retirement.’ I will miss his boundless energy and love for the people and communities of Portage County.”

Anton died on Sept. 22. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 1, 2021, at St. Bronislava Catholic Church. The Very Rev. Ed Shuttleworth is officiating. A private family burial will follow in the Plover Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, 2021, at the Pisarski Community Funeral Home, 2911 Plover Rd., Plover., and from 10 a.m. Friday morning at St. Bronislava Catholic Church until the time for mass. Masks will be required for all attendees. 

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