GREENVILLE—Bob Anthony, whose name is synonymous with motorcycling and such organizations as the Masons and Shriners, left a legacy behind when he passed April 15.
Daughter Susie said he had suffered a stroke on April 8 and was placed in Hospice care just two days before his death.
Susie, who lives next door to her father, said since her mother, Dot, died, it’s been just the two of them.
“I’m glad I got to spend time with him,” she said. “We’ve been pretty much inseparable for the last few years. Then, I was in Miami Valley with my heart a month ago.”
She said her father did his own cooking, cleaning, laundry and grass mowing.
“He wanted to be independent,” said Susie, who worked at Edison Materials Technology Center, as a bookkeeper for 27 years before the state closed the business down in 2012.
However, she and her father along with his friend, Tom Whitton, would go out to breakfast and/or lunch daily.
“I was the chauffeur,” she said. “I still take Tom out to eat.”
Her father owned Anthony’s Cycle Center for almost 50 years and he raced all over for 20 years.
“He had 250 trophies in storage,” she said. “All of my brothers raced, but I did not. Dad said I didn’t have the coordination for it.”
She also noted that her father had operated a gas truck for Sohio Fuel Oil at one time, and also worked for Girbert’s Implements as a mechanic for several years.
“He sold the truck to Uncle Gene and went into the motorcycle business full-time in the late 1960s,” Susie recalled. “I never saw him when I was in school. He was all over Ohio as a district referee and all over the country as a national referee.”
However, she and her father got closer when he had her serve as his clerk and traveled with him.
“Mom helped until the great-grandkids came along,” she said. “She and my brother, Denny, kept the shop open.”
She said her father, who was named Greenville Kiwanis Club’s Citizen of the Year in 2004, went to his last Shriner dinner this past March.
In addition to the Abbottsville United Methodist Church, he was also a member of Greenville Masonic Lodge #143 F&AM where he was past Master; Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Dayton; Antioch Shrine of Dayton; Darke County Shrine Club where he was past president; Darke County Shrine Jeepsters where he served as president, secretary and treasurer; York Rite Greenville Chapter #77 and Machett Council #91; Greenville Elks Lodge; Greenville Eagles Lodge and Greenville Moose Lodge.
Bob was a life member of the American Motorcycle Association; past district and national referee for Professional Motorcycle Racing; and life member of Treaty City Motorcycle Club. He was also founder and a charter member of the Enduro Riders Association and served as past president.
“I don’t have a lot of memories of Bob as I didn’t know him that well until later in life,” said Ted Klepinger. “But the memories I do have will last a lifetime. I knew Bob from Greenville and the surrounding local towns’ homecoming parades driving the Jeepsters to haul the homecoming court. We would always see each other that day and do the parade then sometimes go out to eat after. My Dad would drive the car and I would ride. Later in life when I got my driver’s license, I drove and hauled the court myself. I always liked the Jeepster from doing that and thought to myself I’d like to have one of my own one day.”
Ted added, “Fast forward to 2021, Kevin Flory owned and was now selling Bob Anthony’s 1949 Jeepster at a local auction and I ended up buying it from Kevin. I told Bob what I thought about doing beforehand and he was thrilled I would be attempting to purchase it. He even said I could store it in back in his own garage till I found some room of my own. That summer for his 96th birthday on July 28, 2021, my family and I took him out for ice cream in the Jeepster to Dairy Barn in Greenville. He had birthday breakfast/lunch/dinner and ice cream that day. Needless to say, it was a pretty good day for him. In August 2021 during the Great Darke County Fair, Bob Anthony was the grand marshall for Len Nealeigh’s Western Ohio Motorsports LLC motorcycle races. Bob was a very successful Honda and Triumph motorcycle dealer here in Greenville for over 50 years. I got to use my (Bob’s) Jeepster that he had for over 38 years to take Bob and his daughter Susie down the homestretch in front of the grandstand to honor him as being the grand marshall. He gave a speech and talked to the crowd and, after a loud wave of applause, we all hauled off in the Jeepster. Bob, along with his daughter Susie and friend Tom Whitton were also regulars at Cole’s Front Street restaurant in Greenville. There have been many fond memories of my family and his having lunch together on a Thursday or Saturday, or just about any other day or time of the week, fighting over pie and talking about life. I will always enjoy the time I had with Bob and be reminded of it every time I drive my Jeepster.”
Bruce R. Klepinger, had this to say: “Up until recently on any given day, you could find Bob and his gang at Front Street Inn for breakfast and lunch. Most new Bob, but many may not have known his amazing philanthropy he did for the community. Bob was very active as a driver to run kids to the Shriners Burns Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Bob did this for many years as well as collecting and recycling aluminum cans to give the money to the Shrine hospital.”
Bruce went on, “Bob was active as president of the Darke county Jeepster Club and was in every parade he could to promote the Shrine Hospitals as they give free care to burned and injured children. The Jeepsters have been a staple of the homecoming parade and crowning of the queen since 1978. Sadly, the club has disbanded and most Jeepsters have been sold off or left Darke County. At one time, there were over 45 Jeeps and hundreds of members that supported the Shrine Hospitals through the Jeepster Club. Bob led an amazing life and gave back to the community in ways that most didn’t even know. ‘Well Done Faithful Servant’.”
Bob’s daughter-in-law, Barbara Anthony, Bob graduated from Arcanum High School and started farming with his dad, but his father wanted him to quit school earlier to help farm but he told his dad he liked school and wanted to play basketball so he was graduating. Bob was an excellent mechanic and could fix anything. If he couldn’t get the part, he was known to make his own parts for repairs. If times were different and he could have gone to college, he would have been a great engineer. He was an engineer but without the college education.”
“Bob and I became friends in the Shrine Club here and the Antioch in Dayton,” said Tom Whitton. “Both of us were driving the hospital van to Children’s Hospital in Lexington.
We decided that to help the fund drive, we would do an aluminum can operation drive. We built a trailer and started taking drums to different locations collecting cans. Every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks we would go to Chickasaw with a trailer load of cans. Bob and I decided to do something with it, so we went to the golf course and collected cans at White Springs. Time went by and things were changing as far as the van operation was concerned.”
They gave up the aluminum can route five years ago.
“Bob and I stayed friends through the pandemic,” Whitton noted. “He and I from time to time would do a steak on the grill for club meetings and a couple of other local concerns. We had a good charcoaler. We usually ate breakfast together. During the pandemic, we ate at Bob’s house and eventually we changed to the Front Street Inn.”
Whitton, who will turn 99 in September, said he still drives from here to the VA in Dayton.
“I do my own shopping, laundry and Bob did too,” he said proudly.
Carole Schafer said she did not know Bob directly but indicated he was a great man and friend.
“He sold me a motorcycle years ago before I met my husband Steve,” she said. “I once made a line drawing of their son, Steve, to be used for posters of upcoming cycle racing at the fairgrounds. Later I gave the original drawing to Bob and Dot. He was a great friend of Steve’s when they were Masonic brothers.”
Jim Snyder of Greenville said he participated with Bob in Enduros, or mud races, using his side car and Bob’s motorcycle and his side car.
“This was after I got out of the Army in the early 1960s,” Snyder said. “Bob was a pretty darn good motorcycle mechanic.”
Austin Anthony wrote the history of his great-grandfather, Bob Anthony, as an eighth-grader and is now 23 and out of college.
The write-up was on display at the funeral. Excerpts from it read:
“Bob Anthony was born July 28, 1925, in Van Buren Township, and as he was growing up, he went to school in a one-room schoolhouse for eight years. Across from the schoolhouse was also the church he went to almost every Sunday. Then, he was becoming an eighth-grader, so he went to Arcanum, and graduated from there in 1943.
“The thing back then was that once you graduated that you immediately went to apply for the Army, so he did. There were 98 people who went on the bus to take the test to be enrolled in the Army and only three came back. Those three failed. Bob was one of them, having received a 4F grading because he had a collapsed lung. His dreams of becoming an army man were shattered.
“After getting denied from the Army, Bob got a job as a milk truck driver for about eight years, and, with this job, he also started farming. A couple of years later, in 1948, the Army called him up and told him that they wanted him to join the Army, so he went up to Columbus and took the test to be enrolled in the Army, but yet again, he failed. He was given a 4FA grade this time. They did offer him a job as a desk man, but he declined that offer.
“In 1949, on his birthday, a terrible thing happened. His house caught on fire when he went away. It had burned everything. All he had left was his motorcycle and his 1938 Pontiac, so he took his only two things and drove off on a journey. This is when he decided to start a motorcycle business. As that journey continued, he went to work for an International Harvester dealership in 1955, the same year he bought an Ohio distributor motorcycle business that mostly sold gas and other things.
Of his five children, Steven was taught a lot about racing when growing up. Steven became a motorcycle racer and he was one of the best, thanks to his dad.
Still sticking to his motorcycle business, Bob ended up buying a building on State Route 121, now known as Anthony’s Cycle Center, in 1964. He finally opened in 1965 and has been there ever since. Also while running the business, he became a district referee for motorcycle races in 1967 or 1968. Then, he was appointed national referee in 1981. But, during this time, his son, Steven, had a a terrible accident and was killed in a motorcycle crash on June 6, 1976, at the age of 23. After the death, Bob became a strict referee, because he didn’t want anyone getting hurt like his son did. He retired a couple of years later.
“The two things that affected my great-grandpa’s life in a big way were World War II and the fire of 1949. For World War II, since he was a farmer, he had to work even harder to make food for soldiers overseas. He couldn’t work for an hour and then go and watch TV or something like we usually do; he had to work his butt off getting food for soldiers overseas. It changed his life just like it changed almost everybody else’s life in the U.S.A. The fire also affected him as well. It destroyed everything and he had to start over. He had nothing and he overcame that and started his life again. If it weren’t for losing everything like this, he may have never moved to the place on 121. Also because of this, he worked two jobs for a long time. He also worked until midnight or later to finish the motorcycles he had to work on. He became a very hardworking man trying to come up with the money to come back from that devastating fire.
There was another event that affected his life. Steven’s death. As I stated before, he became a stricter ref, but it affected his life even more. It was just like any father losing his son. What would you have felt if you lost your son? Well, to him, it felt 10 times worse. So he lived through this trying to still be the best man he can. This affected me, because as a child, I grew up with one less grandpa and also, he could have been a great influence on my own racing. If I was lucky, I could have been a professional racer myself.
So, as you can see my grandpa was a hardworking man. He also loved motorcycles just as much as the rest of the Anthonys do. My dad may have never become a hardworking man like he is today, and then I would have never become the one like I am today. This is all because of my great-grandpa, and I thank him for it. You can see what my grandpa overcame.”