Letter from Trish Willson

"Everyone needs an Anton..."

I had the opportunity of working 'Red Sea Tour '97' with Anton. At least, that's what we called it. I was a dive instructor for Broadreach, a summer adventure program for teenagers, and Anton was our dive guide from Camel Dive Club, the dive facility Broadreach uses for its Red Sea program. We called it Red Sea Tour '97 because we compared Broadreach to the army, a job you love to hate. Being responsible for a group of teenag-ers for several weeks robs you of your sanity almost entirely. Anton, as our dive guide, had the opportunity of going home every evening to the "crazy villa," where he lived with a dozen or so of some of the best people he said he could have ever known. His sanity was able to be rejuvenated (to some extent) before he stepped back on the boat in the morning with a dozen teenagers, all eager to inquisition him about the events from the previous night. They thought of him as their hero, harassing him with ridiculous com-ments and questions throughout the day... "So, Anton, you like whale sharks?"

Anton truly was my hero that summer. He kept us laughing for six straight weeks, and not just a "ha-ha, isn't that funny" laugh, but a constant ab workout where we were crying, rolling on the ground. He was always cheerful, witty and clever. One of the kids created a catch-all phrase for every time we could barely breathe simply because once again one of Anton's comments brought on hysterical laughter. Our saying: "Everyone needs an Anton."

Beyond being such a laugh and good time, Anton's contribution to Broadreach that summer was way beyond what is expected from a Camel Dive staff. He was genu-inely interested in all of us and wanted to be involved. I was never such a brilliant in-structor as when I got to work with Anton, and we all know that it was all Anton's bril-liance. The kids from that summer still rave about the rescue scenarios he put together for them. It was all an act involving some rather outrageous characters. He usually played an inexperienced diver who was hung-over &/or crazed on drugs. A favorite per-formance was when he was suited up in only his wetsuit and weightbelt; he asked John Lochner, a divemaster candidate: "Can I get in the water?"

John, who was in charge of the dive but still learning, said: "Sure."

The next thing John saw was a little red wetsuit hauling ass past him straight to the stem of the boat and then plunge into the water. John raced over to the stern. Look-ing down into the water he saw Anton standing on the bottom of the ocean, grinning ear to ear, just waving, patiently waiting for someone to come "rescue" him. The kids learned an important lesson about leadership, and we all had a good laugh. Every mo-ment with Anton was like that. I was constantly impressed with Anton's intuitive ability to put together meaningful learning experiences for these young kids.

I had the privilege of knowing Anton for only a short time, but shared with him some of my best dives, laughs and thoughts. Anton's interest in people encouraged them to be their best. Memories of him will be treasures for so many people. Thinking about the kids' catch-all phrase, "Everyone needs an Anton," there will only ever be one Anton. We were all so blessed to have had him as part of our lives.

In loving memory of Anton,

Trish Willson
2906 E. Sierra Vista
Tuscon, AZ 85716