Anthony John “Tony” Schill, 70, passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the home that he loved in Miola, PA the afternoon of August 2, 2017. Born on March 19, 1947 in Oil City, Tony was the son of Raymond Edward Schill and Ruth Ann Ditz Schill Jeannerat. Throughout his life, Tony would often like to tell the story and lament about how he received his name. When his parents were traveling on their honeymoon in 1946, his mother lost her wallet, which contained all of the money she and Ray had for their trip. Ruth prayed to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost items, that if the wallet was found, they would name their firstborn son Anthony. The young couple found the wallet–money intact–and Tony was destined to have an Italian first name to contrast his German surname.
Tony grew up on Shay Street in a close-knit neighborhood in Seneca, PA, and he attended Saint Stephen School and Venango Christian High School (now Venango Catholic), graduating in 1965. Among his accomplishments during his school years were attaining the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of Oil City’s Troop 11, one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the country, and becoming a standout basketball player who scored over 1,000 points during his varsity high school career at V.C. Tony then continued his basketball career in college by playing for Oil City legend Clarence “Dutch” Burch at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, where he also studied accounting. As an adult, Tony enjoyed playing in area men’s basketball leagues for many years with friends. Always a fiery competitor, he took great pride in consistently playing on very good adult teams, scoring over 30 points in three consecutive games one season, and for being able to dunk a basketball after he was 40.
Known for his strong work ethic, Tony held a variety of accounting-related jobs at Joy Manufacturing, Chicago Pneumatic, various local oil companies, Peter C. Stubler Distributors in Oil City, and finally Franklin Beer Company in Franklin as office manager before retiring from full-time work in 2010. Over the years, Tony also worked part-time on oil leases, sold and traded collectable stamps at stamp shows, and offered accounting services to small businesses and individuals. He did whatever work he needed to do to provide for his family and was known for his honesty, traits that he passed onto his children. In retirement, he was particularly proud to give back to his community by serving as the chairperson of the Supervisors of Highland Township.
Because of his size, long hair, beard, and often loud voice, Tony could be an imposing presence to those who first met him. Most people were pleasantly surprised by how friendly and gentle he really was, particularly after he became a parent and especially after he became a grandpa. Tony often wore his heart on his sleeve–whether he was happy, displeased, or as was often the case, sentimental about some aspect of his life. While watching his beloved Steelers, he would run the full gamut of emotions and everyone within earshot went along for the ride, for better or for worse. More so, Tony seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of humor–especially his own (often puns, which seem to be hereditary). It was not unusual to see Tony laugh until he cried when he heard or told jokes or funny stories. His laughter was contagious. In his passing, he would love to know those who care about him are laughing as they think about an inside joke or one of his many enjoyable visits with them.
He was grateful for many aspects of his life, especially family, and often described himself, as recently as the last several weeks, as “blessed.” Tony truly valued the friendships he had made throughout his life with neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, and his relatives, many of whom he considered his very best friends. If people fell into the good friend or family category, they probably were the recipient of his good hugs, a trait he inherited from his mother, Ruth.
Nobody was a stranger for long around Tony. Wherever he went–in town, out of town, out of state, to restaurants, concerts, the theater, camping, shopping–and despite sometimes causing embarrassment to those accompanying him–he talked to people he had just met as if he had been friends with them for years. In many cases, the people did become his friends.
In addition, Tony loved to travel by car with Janice Porter, his partner of 34 years in all things life, to visit friends and explore new places–he was especially fond of traveling to Canada and visiting dear friends in Quebec. Though he would fly if he had to, he despised air travel. Tony often complained of the cramped spaces and absolutely hated any turbulence, unexpected noises, pressure changes, descents, and landings. Once, while preparing to land in Colorado to spend time with his twins Kate and Ben to celebrate their 21st birthday, the plane he was on endured a particularly rough landing. For years after the 1998 flight, he would recount, “That landing was the most terrifying experience I have ever had in my entire life!” Despite this very bad episode, he flew several more times into Colorado, including just two weeks ago–to visit family.
Music was as much a part of Tony’s everyday life as was breathing. He appreciated a wide range of genres–from rock and roll to the blues to classical to Dixieland jazz–even a particularly rousing gospel choir–he loved all good music. He enjoyed learning about the artists, talking to others about musicians and bands, and most of all, listening to music at a loud volume, often slapping his large hands to the beat of the song on the dashboard, table, his legs, or another person’s legs if his drum pad was out of arm’s reach. He attended many concerts and shows with family and friends over the years and was particularly enthusiastic about the Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, and Rush, to name a few bands.
While listening to music at home, he loved to cook for his family and friends, but not before having drinks and holding court around the dining room table. The meals typically went on late, but the wait was worth it since the food was usually delicious. He did all he could to ensure that his children cooked well, too.
Tony also deeply appreciated art, particularly paintings by Tom Thompson, Monet, Frederick Church, and Renoir. He often sought out and rarely walked by a museum without going in to admire and learn about what was inside. He was the guy who read everything on the displays while the rest of the group walked on to see what was ahead. Tony was also a voracious reader and huge history and geography fan, particularly related to World War II. He would talk for hours–often to his yawning children–about battleships, particular battles, or historical figures crucial to the outcome of the war, especially Winston Churchill.
He also loved his country, his cat and dog, and his horses. Proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks: Tony was a person who found dogs to be a nuisance for much of his adult life, but he grew to adore his late dog, Chi, and was fast becoming attached to his new puppy, Josie. He passed many of his wide-ranging enthusiasms–from sport to art, history, humor, music, language, science, nature, wildlife, pets, and travel–onto each of his five children.
Tony leaves behind many loved ones, including his longtime partner, Janice Porter of Miola; his mother Ruth Ditz Schill Jeannerat of Clarion; and his brother Greg Schill and fiancee Kathleen Markowski, of Rolling Hills Estates, California. In addition, he is survived by his children and grandchildren: Jay and his wife Lynne and their children Breanna, Quinn, and Alyssa of Middletown, Maryland; Alli Schill and her husband Cliff Dean of Rochester, New York; Kate Montgomery and her husband Bob and their children Liam and Alana of Joelton, Tennessee; Ben Schill and his wife Stacey and their children Gemma, Luke, Evangeline, and Isla of Boerne, Texas; and Jessi Koppenhauer and her husband Andy and their children Saydi, Norah, and Quinn of Denver, Colorado; as well as many cousins with whom he loved to stay in contact. He considered his older cousin, Andy Eisenman, to be like a brother and often called him his hero.
He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Edward Schill, an infant brother, Gerald Schill, and many dear aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Following Tony’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. Instead, a wake celebrating his life will be held for family and friends at a later date. (This will involve loud music and good booze – he wished to treat his friends and family to one last drink.) The date and location will be published as soon as it is finalized.
No donations to causes in Tony’s name are necessary–save your money in some kind of tax-sheltered fund so that you can retire someday. Instead, in memory of Tony, please consider carrying out a random act of kindness every time you think of him, then ask the recipient to pass the kindness on to someone else at their earliest opportunity. Tony would absolutely love that.