Local man remembered for his volunteerism

Marietta lost a hero last Thursday, June 21, when Leo Antons died. His heroism was not the type recognized with medals, but of service to his Lord for helping others. You see, Leo was a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society at the Basilica of St. Mary. He was the coordinator for donations of furniture, appliances, and other household items that are given to people in need. The term “coordinator” does not mean that he sat in an office and told workers where to go and what to do. He got in his truck, sometimes “recruited” volunteers, and traveled countless hours and miles through our area. Over the years, the total tonnage of furniture, appliances, and mattresses, he picked up would be huge. Leo never kept track. He often joked that his back took care of that.

Because of his efforts, hundreds of families have a table and chairs for their dinner, a stove to cook on, a couch and chair where they can relax, or a bed to sleep on. Marietta is a generous community and when someone had an item to donate, Leo was always ready to pick it up. So often, a family had lost belongings due to flood or fire, or a mother with young ones could not afford to furnish her apartment. Grandchildren needed to taken in after a divorce. The cost of beds for the children would exhaust the meager budgets of older retired grandparents. The stories go on and on with Leo’s collections filling prayerful needs.

He did his work with self-deprecating humor as he reported on “horizontal and vertical dressers,” hide-a-beds with skeletons of steel, and making his way through narrow hallways or stairs.

We will try to continue his work with heavy hearts and gratitude to God that Leo’s life touched ours. Rest in peace, good friend, and here’s hoping that all the furniture up there is made with balsa wood and light goose down. Pray for us. You’re a tough act to follow.

Jim Hartlage