Bob Anton

Published 10:51 am Monday, February 12, 2024

March 6, 1929-Feb. 3, 2024


Robert G. Anton, age 94 years of Niles, Michigan; father, grandfather, great-grandfather, local sports enthusiast, champion dog trainer, and barber died peacefully at 11:22 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, with his family gathered around his bedside at West Woods of Niles following a brief illness.
He was born on March 6, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois to Robert and Bessie (Klapp) Anton, but moved as a child with his family to Cassopolis, Michigan where he played football on a very successful high school team, and was graduated from Ross Beatty High School. He moved to Niles, and began his career as a barber at the O.K. Barber Shop in the lower level of the Masonic Building. A few years later, he established his own shop, Bob’s Barber Shop, on Third Street just behind Veni’s, with fellow barber William W. “Red” Kell manning the second chair. While “Bob’s” was 2 blocks from city hall, nearly everything that happened in Niles was discussed there and debated by everyone who had an office or store in downtown, and Bob enjoyed being a part of that. After more than fifty years of barbering, his retirement was front-page news in the Niles Daily Star.
Bob was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Niles Elks #1322 when it was just 3 doors down from his shop, and was a member of the Saint Joseph Valley Lodge #4, F. & A.M. and other associated Masonic organizations. He enjoyed fishing for blue gill at Big Fish Lake near Marcellus, Michigan, and hunting for several breeds of waterfowl, which developed an interest in Labrador Retriever dogs. He always had pet labs, and practiced field training his dogs, eventually entering and winning competitions at national level field training contests.
He always supported area sports, coaching FOP baseball when his children were young, helping behind the scenes at both the FOP and Thomas Stadium, and attending every event of his children and grandchildren. He was a regular attender for decades at Niles High School football games, and was also a great fan of the University of Notre Dame Women’s Basketball team, often cheering-on the “Muffeteers” — his term to honor their coach, Muffet Mcgraw.
On Sept. 30, 1950, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint James in South Bend, Indiana he married the former Roxanne “Nancy” Ossmer with whom he celebrated the remarkable Sixty-eighth anniversary of their wedding prior to her death on June 27, 2019. He was also sadly preceded in death by a daughter, Julia Anton Wiggins just a year ago on Feb. 22, 2023; by his parents Bob and Bessie Anton; and by Nancy’s siblings, Barbara Taylor, Sarah A. “Sally” Remus, David Ossmer, Daniel Ossmer William Ossmer, and Margaret “Maggie” Gillette.
Surviving family includes his son, Gerald R. (& Pam) Anton of Niles, son-in-law Reynold Connor Wiggins III of Half-Moon Bay, California; grandchildren Amy (& David) Lueders, Robert (& Mollie) Anton, and Patricia Anton (& fiancé, Ashley Gates); and great-grandchildren Grayson and Madelyn Lueders, and Amelia Anton.
The family of Bob Anton will receive relatives and friends on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Committal Services will be private, with Bob’s family gathering at the graveside in Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles, with Pastor Jim Wing of Niles officiating.
Contributions in memory of Bob may be made to the Niles Vikings Athletics Boosters, c/o Niles High School, 1441 Eagle Street, Niles, Michigan, 49120. Online condolences and memories may be left at:
Ninety-four years is a versy long life, and Bob used all of those years well, participating in athletics and other outdoor sports all of his life, being an active participant in the activities of his community, and training his Labs. All of these interests were focused on encouraging others, the student teams, the members of his community, and his barber shop patrons; but most important was his family, especially Nancy.