My brother, Tony Gottsponer, had a life that was an oxymoron. That word means two concepts are stuck together that are opposites.
Like this: Some say Tony had been a comparatively unique person. I would say he was a completely unique person as every one of us is. Tony Gottsponer sported a dry sense of humor only a few ever experienced. Some remember Tony’s opening line in his speech at our mom’s 80th birthday celebration. “Living with Mom was a moving experience.” Then he kept the audience smiling as he told of the many places she had lived in more than three decades in Yuma.
Most remember social occasions with Tony shyly sitting quietly by himself reading a book. The rest of his family visited and talked.
To begin with our parents, Jeane and Leo Gottsponer found a dream come true in Tony. As a young bride, before Jeane was nearly pregnant, she had wished for two children. A year after her and Leo’s marriage, dream # 1 came to them.
A post-war baby boomer.
Handsome. Smart. Big-boned. Intelligent eyes.
Another year later came dream #2 – a daughter.
Then a few years beyond that, a surprise indeed! and another son. Tony had become a vital part of a family of five.
But he had his challenges. Tony didn’t walk until he was nearly three. Far luckier than others infected before the wide use of polio vaccine, Tony survived a light case of polio. He had only minor problems and learned to deal with them. A serious head injury as a toddler changed Tony forever on the outside.
But the inside continued to amaze everyone. Tony’s intelligence. His skills. His reducing tough problems to a few steps.
No one else in the family was a whiz at math. Someone once said that Tony was so left-brained it should be against the law.
Computers were putty in his hands. So simple!
Not for the rest of us.
As an adult, Tony planned to work in technology in the Navy. He predicted he would follow his father’s footsteps in the service. But Tony’s skin disease disqualified him. God wasn’t finished with him yet. Tony didn’t give up on himself or life. He worked hard, investing more than twenty years with the local A.J. Bayless store. He was an employee with loyalty. He worked for Lujan Tax Service for nearly 25 years.
In Tony’s younger years, he noted those were the days of cheap gas – a thin quarter was all it took for a gallon of gas. But Tony beat it down with an even harder bargain: as a young adult, he rode a bicycle everywhere – for commuting, fitness and the sheer fun of saving money.
Tony was nearly forty when he almost surprised the family by bringing home an attractive lady from church. Even Tony’s then two-year-old nephews Lance and Travis turned from their toy trucks to witness the miracle. Tony and his friend, Betsy, were holding hands.
A few days later, Tony became something that left us drawing a blank. Tony was no longer a member of the Loner’s Club.
None would ever have predicted Tony’s new roles:
First, he was a fiancée,
shortly after, a husband,
and a year later, a father to Bethany.
He become a Yuma Toastmaster and a barbershop chorale member. Known also for his passion for gourmet cooking, Tony was often surrounded by prep bowls of tasty ingredients. Betsy commented that after 30 years of Tony’s cuisine, she is just learning to cook.
Add to Tony another recent role: grandfather: the blessings of three strong and handsome grandsons: Robbie, R.J. and Randy.
When a life hastens slowly to a close, it can bring fear or acceptance. With Tony, I believe it brought wonder. A sense of awe that he had become so many new things at a time in life when others learned only their hair was thinning and their arches were falling.
In the absence of Tony , we are faced with a thunderous silence. But I believe that up in Heaven today, Tony is celebrating that he is now better than new.
Jo Russell, sister to Tony
[Tony Gottsponer, aged 69, died at home June 30, 2015, in Yuma, Arizona. After his recent stroke a short time ago, he learned he had terminal cancer infused in many of his major organs. God blessed him with the time to say goodbye and to pass quickly without further pain.]