ANTHONY (TONY) VANDERAA

With shattered hearts and profound sadness, the family of Anthony (Tony) Vanderaa announce his unexpected passing at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on January 8, 2024. Anthony was surrounded by much love from his family as he peacefully passed.

Anthony was born October 15, 1963, and was the second eldest child born in Fort Frances to Ann and John Vanderaa. Anthony grew up on the family farm in Emo, and to his last day, this was his favourite place to retreat. His “farm” was, to him, the most peaceful place to putter in his “museum,” where all items were neatly arranged, not a single wrench or item was ever out of place, and the grounds were kept immaculate. He also tended to a rose garden here, created especially for his granddaughter Addi.

In 1988, Anthony started his career with MPAC as a Property Assessor. Through his MPAC years, Anthony formed a close working relationship with his co-workers, who became his best friends. Anthony continued his employment until 2011, when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. In 2012, a stem cell transplant was performed, and through his hard work and unwavering strength, he remained in remission. Anthony experienced many health challenges and, to many, was an inspiration who always remained positive and lived each day to the fullest. Anthony experienced much pain over the years with his illnesses; however, there was no greater pain than the day he lost his beautiful granddaughter, Addi.

Throughout the years, Anthony and Cheryl travelled multiple times to Florida, getting out of the cold and enjoying the sunshine. Loving NASCAR, dirt track racing and football, they went on many road trips, watching what he loved, and he always gave commentary. He had a love/hate relationship with the Green Bay Packers, and one of his favourite memories was attending a Packer game at Lambeau Field.

In 2021, Anthony and Cheryl moved to Emo to be closer to family. Here, they built their forever home and never regretted their decision. He loved to landscape and cut grass to perfection; no one could cut grass the way he did. He was always quick to offer to cut anyone’s grass! Anthony also enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and loved to meet for coffee. This also meant he was closer to the “farm” and could go anytime.

Anthony had a tremendous sense of humour and quick wit and was a caring and wonderful partner, father, grandfather, brother and uncle who was immensely loved and will be missed terribly; he has left an enormous void in the lives of everyone who knew and loved him. He touched many lives and only wanted what was best for his family. Nephews, nieces and grandchildren have wonderful memories of shenanigans at family gatherings.

Anthony shared an unconditional, immeasurable bond with his only daughter, Alyssa, built on 33 years of love, support, guidance and protection. Home to Alyssa was wherever Anthony was.

Left to grieve with shattered hearts are his loving partner, Cheryl Bodnar; daughter Alyssa Goldamer (Matt); brothers Tim (Anne Marie) and Rick (Ange); sister Jackie Hailstone (Sean); sister-in-law Vicki Dorie (Dan); nieces and nephews (who knew Anthony best as Uncle Newt) Melissa, Adam (Madison), Noah (Emma), Michael, Wyatt, Morgan (Tyler), Liam and Olivia. Anthony was blessed with a grandson, Kane, but his time with Kane was cut way too short to enjoy and spoil his grandson. Kane and Grandpa had an undeniable love for each other. Kane lit up when Grandpa walked into the room, and so did Grandpa when he saw Kane. Nothing else mattered when those two were together.

Anthony and Cheryl had a blended family. Also saddened with grief are Cheryl’s daughters Jennifer Olson (Greg), Melanie Williams (Owen) and their children, who adored and adopted Anthony as a bonus grandpa, Emily and Ben Olson, and Maddy and Carter Williams. Also survived by Cheryl’s siblings Elaine Bercher (Tom), Karla Widgren and Roger Widgren; brother-in-law Stan Cottam; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Anthony was predeceased by his brother Marty; parents Ann and John Vanderaa; and granddaughter Addilyn.

As per Anthony’s wishes, there will be no funeral at this time; cremation has taken place. A private gathering will be held at a later date.

Donations in memory of Anthony may be made to the Fort Frances Community Chest, c/o Linda Hamilton, 1727 Sunset Drive, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3V2.

“Life is not forever – but Love is.”