Entrance to Veterans Memorial Park Renamed Anthony ‘Tony’ Vancheri Lanen
By STEVE LENOX
PATERSON, NJ – When Tony Vancheri puts his mind to something he usually gets it done. He’s a man to whom many titles apply: deputy mayor, friend, father, grandfather, to name just a few.
On Saturday, once again, it was his status as a veteran that took center stage as the access road leading to the top of Veterans Park at Hayden Heights, Paterson’s own Hill of Heroes, was renamed in his honor.
From Saturday forward, as his youngest son, Nicholas, described, all who come to the area, whether to pay their respects to Paterson’s war dead, to admire the decommissioned tank that stands on display, or just to enjoy a respite in the open space that serves as an oasis in an otherwise gritty and crowded city, will see the name Anthony “Tony” Vancheri.
The accolades for the Belgium-born, and Paterson raised, Vancheri flowed from the mouths of all in attendance, not just those who got behind the podium during a program emceed by Chris Vancheri. From Tony’s friend of 57 years John Harris, to Mayor Andre Sayegh and City Council President Martiza Davila, and concluding with the still formidable veteran’s wife of 51 years Anna Maria, herself a force to be reckoned with, each praised Tony for his commitment to country first, his family an equal second, and then all he comes into contact with, especially those who may need a hand up from time to time.
Even the youngest in the crowd, Tony’s three grandchildren, recognized the significance and grandeur of the contributions he has made in Paterson and beyond.
“He would do anything to help someone,” Isabel, 12, told TAPinto Paterson just moments after Tony’s oldest child, and only daughter, Michele, climbed a 6-foot ladder to unveil the new sign. “He works really hard for people that need it,” she continued, before concluding that her grandfather “inspires me to be kind to people.”
Evan, 10, who referred to the patriarch of the family as “loving and caring” is also learning how to be a better person thanks to his grandfather. “Even if it’s negative five he’ll give you his coat and shirt,” Evan said. “If it’s 100 degrees he’ll get you shade.”
Offering his own praise was Nicholas, 8, who said that Grandpa, as the trio of well-mannered and well-spoken children refer to Vancheri, is “perfect” and “a great person.”
“He inspires me to act kind,” the youngest of the three concluded.
As it came time for the hero of the day to speak, he, as is well recognized by anyone who has heard him speak before, seemed to have the most difficulty making the day about him.
“I am truly honored and blessed,” Vancheri said. “But we must continue to honor and remember our brave men and women who served and died for our freedom.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for today.”