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Antonio "Toni" Lisi dies at 78

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES FILES
Retired Orillia OPP officer Gerry Dwyer presenting a recognition award last year to long-time volunteer Toni Lisi for his time with the OPP and Kiwanis Children's Safety Village. Lisi died last month at the age of 78.

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES FILES Retired Orillia OPP officer Gerry Dwyer presenting a recognition award last year to long-time volunteer Toni Lisi for his time with the OPP and Kiwanis Children's Safety Village. Lisi died last month at the age of 78.

Toni Lisi had a wicked sense of humour and was always the first to volunteer when the need arose.

Those are two of the many qualities friends and family are now remembering of the dedicated volunteer, business owner and family man who died suddenly at the age of 78 last month while on a Mediterranean cruise with Brigitte, his wife of 44 years.

"We had just docked in Sardinia and had stepped off the boat when he had a massive heart attack," Brigitte said, noting she and her late husband were avid travellers and Toni's personal bucket list included visiting 100 countries.

"He got to 95. He always had a smile on his face and had such a great wit."

Antonio "Toni" Lisi was born in southern England, eventually deciding to come to Canada.

"He arrived in November in Winnipeg and snowed and snowed," laughed Brigitte, who herself immigrated to Canada from Belgium and met Toni years later when they were both living in Toronto.

Besides Brigitte, Toni leaves behind two sons (Mark and Antonio), a daughter (Nicola), six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A celebration of his life is slated for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Carson Funeral Home's Doolittle Chapel (54 Coldwater St. E.).

Brigitte said Toni began volunteering early in their children's lives, including time as a cub scout leader and a stint as Antonio's hockey coach, even though he had never played the game and didn't skate.

But Toni must have been doing something right, Brigitte joked, noting that the team included a youngster named Brendan Shanahan, who went on to become a star hockey player and now runs the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team.

The Lisi's moved to the region nearly 40 years ago after purchasing the Layzee Acres RV Park, but the shift didn't diminish Toni's volunteer spirit.

He was a member of the Champlain Seniors Service Club and helped with the Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital where he served as a porter and as a volunteer driver with Helping Hands for many years.

But retired OPP officer Gerry Dwyer knows Toni best from his many years helping young people as an OPP volunteer for the Kiwanis Safety Village and his efforts to educate youth about safety, in general, and railroad safety, in particular.

"He was such a good guy," said Dwyer, who first met Toni in 2004 and quickly became friends.

"He was an outstanding volunteer who gave thousands of hours of his time. He was a credit to himself, the Orillia OPP detachment and the community. He was just an outstanding person, an outstanding citizen."

Brigitte said Toni was always the first one to step forward when an organization or individual needed help.

"He was such a big volunteer, a very quiet volunteer," she said. "That's what I'm most proud of him. Nobody will miss him more than me."

andrewphilips@live.ca



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