Letter from Aneida Alexander
Dear family and friends of Anton,
My name is Aneida Alexander. I live in Anchorage, Alaska. As you know, Anton's heart lives on in my dear friend Dennis Morgan. What I would like for you to know is that his heart has a good home and is continuing the work Anton started.
I have known Dennis for many years. I have worked with him at the State Department of Transportation, socialized with him and his wife Joan, worshipped with them at First Presbyterian Church, and shared daughter stories since our daughters attended high school together.
Dennis is a very out-going, loving person of great wit and a tender heart (then and now!) that sheds tears over many things. Dearest to him for many years has been his step-daughter Betsy. What kind of man would come to work wearing a sweatshirt made by young hands and share in a sensitive voice how touched he is that his step-daughter made it for him.
When Dennis became ill, all of our colleagues gathered to help him with his work. He had a thick mat at the office and would rest there much of the time. The Regional Construction Engineer finally called Dennis, his supervisor Jack Fullerton, and me into his office. He shut the door and we agreed that Dennis would stay at home resting while we worked out the details of providing him with paid leave time. Dennis had used all of his leave time battling the illness. I put out the word on email that Dennis needed help and the response was overwhelming. People were donating leave time in chunks of 50 hours (over $1,000). More leave time than was needed came in with messages telling me to let people know if more time was needed.
Several years ago, Dennis was participating in a church service at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage. While there he was overcome and stepped into a side room to catch his breath. He did not know that he was dying. Fortunately there were medical personnel present who realized and followed him. They kept him alive until the paramedics came and transported him to the hospital. With so many people gathering to inquire about Dennis and to be there to pray for him, including the archbishop, the hospital staff began asking questions, who is this man? The answer: Dennis who draws people to himself with his warmth. Later Dennis told me that the doctors had to "bring him back" six times and he complained of the soreness of his ribs and the burns on his chest. He said to me, "Aneida, I know when people die and come back, they say they have seen a light. But I didn't see a light!" So, I asked him if he smelled smoke and saw a red glow! He pretended to be angry with me for making him laugh when he was so sore but he told everyone who came to visit about this. All of our friends still use this line when anything strange happens - did you smell smoke? Was there a red glow?
I was privileged to nominate Dennis to be an elder in our church, a position of great responsibility. I knew that he put all others before himself and is a man of service. Until his illness overcame him, he served well and faithfully. I wish I could remember all of the awards and recognition Dennis has received over the years. He is well-known in Anchorage as one who has a heart for others. He has established programs for the elderly and for children. He is an avid fund-raiser for each of the community service programs he is a member in and has served as officer in many of them.
When Dennis was so ill, he would walk a few feet and be totally exhausted. His face was gray, his breath short, his head bowed in pain and fatigue. Yet he continued to voice his dream of lifting the burden of one more person, of bringing companionship and joy, of serving his fellow man.
Dennis has an engaging smile, the grin of an imp, twinkling eyes, and a hearty laugh. When he wants something he cannot be denied. He's a rascal when it comes to practical jokes.
I would love to have known Anton. I am so sorry that his death is what has helped my friend Dennis to live, as Anton is the same age as my own daughter. I can't imagine the horror of losing her. I hope that this letter eases the burden for all of you just a little. I doubt there is one person at First Presbyterian Church or in the State Department of Transportation who does not know the name Anton Segal. He is ours now too. His face is as familiar to me now and the face of Dennis. I remember when Dennis was waiting for a heart he prayed that the heart would not come to him from something that could have been prevented, thus causing more pain to the family. Dennis grieves for Anton, as do Dennis' friends. But I rejoice that I am able to tell you that Anton's heart - physically and spiritually - lives on.
Sincerely and in deepest sympathy,