One of the last greatest generations, Anthony “Tony” Cemelich, passed onto his eternal home on April 12, 2019. His life was a testimony of a man, husband, father and citizen that was memorable in many ways.
Born in Hoquiam on Aug. 11, 1922, to Mark and Anna Cemelich, his early years were marked by the country in the area of the Great Depression. From childhood until the end of his life, he lived a life of tenacity and hard work. Tony graduated from HHS in 1942 and, shortly thereafter, entered the Navy, serving in the Asiatic Pacific theatre from 1943-1946. His military years were a highlight in his life, often reminiscing about the people and places he had experienced. In July 1947, while transporting a friend to Tacoma, he met Marianne Sterbick. It was love at first sight and three months later, they were married, a marriage lasting 67 years. In 1947, he also began his career as a Hoquiam fireman, retiring in 1974. His fellow firefighters were his compatriots and even after retiring, he retained his strong ties with his friends at the station. But Tony’s true passion was working on his property on the bay (off the Hoquiam Airport Road). When he wasn’t at the fire station, he would be down at the bay, firing up his small tug boats and going out into the Grays Harbor Bay to pick up loose logs. He had all the equipment needed to pick up his haul from the water (with the help of his son, Peter), then load it onto his log truck and take it to be sold for wood products. When Tony wasn’t selling logs, he was finding salvaged products that he would acquire and then sell his inventory of industrial odds and ends.
Tony was an active member of Our Lady of Good Help Catholic Church, a 4th degree Knights of Columbus member and worked on various projects at church. During his retirement years, he spent a lot of time traveling with his wife. He traveled to Florida for 20-plus years visiting his son Anthony and his family. Another memorable trip was traveling to Croatia, his parents’ homeland, where he explored his heritage and met extended family members that were still living there.
In 2010, the city of Hoquiam honored him as Pioneer of the Year. Tony stood out as a man who was self-made in the simplest way, by hard work, and his dedication to faith, family, and self-preservation. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. After his wife died in 2014, Tony reluctantly moved to Vancouver so he could be closer his daughters, Marianne and Julie. But his heart was in Hoquiam and he often spoke of how he missed his life there.
He is survived by his sons, Anthony and Peter, daughters, Marianne and Julie, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Services will be held on Wednesday April 17, in Hoquiam, Washington. A viewing will begin at Coleman’s Mortuary at 10 a.m., and then a Rosary and Mass will begin at 11:30 at Our Lady of Good Help Church with burial and reception to follow.