Anthony Joseph Kovach
23 February, 1931 – 31 May, 2020
No words on paper, no chronology of birth, or accomplishments, or career timeline can convey the person that Tony Kovach was. If you were just meeting Tony, you might wonder what you were in for. Deeply intelligent, a dry sense of humour, he might come across as stand-offish. What you would get would be wonderful stories of a life well lived, a generosity surpassed by no one, and an everlasting friendship with one of the most interesting and complex people you could ever hope to meet.
Tony’s father, mother, grandmother, and sister left Hungary in 1925 due to political uncertainty, and Tony was born in Lethbridge, Alberta. He would be the first to say his childhood was not a happy one. Only when Tony started at St. Mary’s boys’ school did his life turn around. Tony became interested in school and did well. From that came some very dear, lifelong friends such as: Jimmie McNamee, Dan McDonald, Willis O’Leary, and Ted Valentine, just to name a few. Jim Millard can certainly not be forgotten either.
Tony worked in every department there was at the Hudson’s Bay Company and saved every nickel he had to attend law school at the University of Alberta. He had wanted to become a doctor, but law school was the cheaper option. After Tony articled he was hired on at the Shell Legal Department in 1956, and was happily there for 32 years. Once again Tony made friends that he loved dearly: Jim Killey, Anne McKenzie, Helen Almadi, Linda Scarlett, Bill Fisher, Joy Popplewell, Colleen Repchinsky, and Cliff Paulson being among them.
Tony retired in 1988 to spend more time with his cocker spaniel Buddy. The animals of the world never had a bigger advocate than this man. Tony became a pescatarian over 30 years ago because of his love of animals. He was urged by Patsy Killey to join her on the then small Board of Directors of the Calgary Humane Society. Trixie, a flatulent Boston terrier, and Buddy, a rescued golden cocker, were the loves of his life. No expense was spared on these two, and no meal was too excessive to prepare for them as long as they were happy.
After retiring, Tony took his Master’s degree under the tutelage of Dr. James Black in Dr. Black’s Shakespeare course, finally settling in Dr. Wall’s contemporary writing class, and then wrote his thesis on James Joyce. Tony’s thesis was so well thought of that in 1997 he was asked to speak at the Trieste Joyce School in Italy. He said the speaking engagement would have gone well had the microphone worked.
As well as animals, his loves included books, fine art, books, classical music, tennis, books, Roger Federer, books, travelling, great Italian food, books, red wine, and Gordon’s gin. Also books.
Tony was predeceased in 1977 by his mother, Lucille Kiraly – the woman he most admired – and his older sister, Elizabeth Bollong, in 2018. He is survived by his niece Christine Logan, and her son Joey Logan, of Surrey, B.C.; his nephew Chuck Bollong, of Astoria, Oregon, and his sons Zachary and Anthony. Tony’s passing will also be deeply felt by his dear friends Kathleen (nee Killey) and Jim Ogle, and Charles and Cathy Erskine.
The family would like to thank the nurses at Prominence Way Retirement Home, especially Gemma, who took such wonderful care of Tony and always made him laugh. Also thank you to Kathleen and Esther at the Southwood Hospice, who sang songs including The Lord’s Prayer and Amazing Grace, to Tony while they tended to him on his last day. A heartfelt thank you to Father Eric Nelson, who so kindly visited Tony during his final days and administered the Last Rites.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to an animal charity of your choosing in Tony’s memory.
Anthony Joseph Kovach
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6 June 2020
Hello. While I didn't know Tony, nor his family or friends, for some reason my eyes were drawn to read his obituary in today's Calgary Herald. I laughed and cried then smiled some more. I felt compelled to reach out. What a lovely tribute to one who sounds like a wonderful man. An animal and book lover myself, I hope my memory gets held so dear and shared so beautifully. All the best to all of yours. ~Andrea C.
5 June 2020
My husband Steve and I always looked forward to chatting with Tony when we visited my parents, Marj & Fran Lefaivre, in Calgary. Tony was their next door neighbour and, although a very private man, he endeared himself to us with his warmth, wisdom and genuine interest in our family. Tony had a broad range of interests and seemed to enjoy animated conversations almost as much as he did his studies, his solitude and his beloved dogs. His deep Catholic faith permeated his life--a faith that we feel sure will now reap him his eternal rest. Our sympathies and prayers are extended to his family and friends.
4 June 2020
Dear family and friends of Tony,
I am Cliff Paulson's daughter, Lisa Paulson. My mother (Sheila) and I were sad to hear Tony has passed away. He was a dear friend of my father and our family. My father enjoyed meeting up with him for walks and going for coffee. It became a Friday ritual for a while. I enjoyed dreaming up some fish dish and inviting him over for dinner. My husband (Joe) enjoyed many conversations with him and tried to keep him hooked up with all the modern computers/tv services. My mother enjoyed sharing news of an exciting tennis match on tv so he wouldn't miss it.
We will miss him.
Lisa, Sheila and Joe
3 June 2020
We are saddened by the loss of our long-time friend. Tony was an unique,intelligent individual and a most interesting person. With deepest sympathy we extend condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.
Willis and Betty O'Leary
Dan & Doreen McDonald
3 June 2020
Our condolence to the family and friends of Anthony (Tony) Kovach on the passing of a great man.
Dan & Doreen McDonald and Family
3 June 2020
Dear family of Tony,
So sorry for your loss of this wonderful gentleman. I met Tony at Shell & knew his wonderful group of friends. He was truly a kind wonderful human being. May you Rest in Peace Tony.