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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Anthony ‘Tony’ F. Slez, Jr., Longtime Westporter, 65

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Anthony “Tony” F. Slez, Jr., a longtime Westport resident where he practiced law before moving to Wisconsin, died March 17 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with his irreverent sense of humor good to the end, his family said. He was 65.

WestportNow.com Image
Tony Slez Jr.: avid supporter of Staples football. Fineartamerica.com photo

Born on May 23, 1946, he was the only son of Vanetta (Benos) and Tony Slez, Sr. He was married to Margaret (“Peggy”) Gorczynski on Jan. 27, 1973.

In addition to his wife and best friend—and former member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM)—he is survived by his son Adam and daughter-in-law Jennifer Huck, as well as by his brothers- and sisters-in-law James and Elizabeth (Weiler) Gorczynski of Le Mars, Iowa, and Dr. Michael and Rosanne (McCann) Gorczynski of Brookfield, Wisc. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, cousins,  and uncle Bernardin Slez of Myrtle Beach, S.C.  He was preceded in death by both of his parents, his uncles Art Benos and Carl Slez, and his aunt Agnes (Slez) Sherwood.

He grew up and lived most of his life in Westport. He attended Assumption School from 1951 to 1960 and graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1964. Throughout his life, he fondly recalled memories of his Jesuit education.

His first career was in the theater and he was proud to have been a member of SAG and AFTRA.

In 1975, he obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Bridgeport, and in 1979 graduated from Western New England College School of Law.

He then practiced law for 25 years in the state and federal courts of Connecticut. A 1989 New York Times article mentioned his role as an attorney for opponents of the Compo Beach playground.

In Westport, he was an avid fan of Staples football. Son Adam, a 1999 Staples graduate, was a captain of the Staples football team.

in 2009, the Staples Gridiron Club, of which he was an active member, inducted him into its Wall of Fame for his football volunteer work. He joined his father in receiving the honor.

Tony Slez Sr., a veteran of World War II, was a standout athlete at Staples where he won 15 varsity letters. He held several school records in track and was captain of the 1937 state championship basketball team. He was a charter inductee into the Staples Wall of Fame in 1995.

Slez Sr. operated Slez Garage, formerly known as Slez-Benos Garage and Service Station, with his brother-in-law Art Benos for many years at 791 Post Road East, near the intersection of Long Lots Road (now Westport Car Wash). It had once been an onion farm owned by the Slez family.

Friends remember the senior Slez as saying, “We didn’t have customers, we had friends.” He died in 2003 at age 84. (See WestportNow April 9, 2003)

In 2004, Tony and Peggy retired to Beaver Dam, Wisc., where he enjoyed life on the lake, honed his photography skills, and directed “Dracula” and “The Prime of Miss Jean Brody” for the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre (BDACT).

In a biography on the Fineartamerica.com website, he wrote of his love of photography and the joy it brought him as he faced his illness.

“Photography, to me, is capturing the truth of a moment,” Slez said. “Every photo should tell a story, or make the viewer ask questions about the moment captured.

“I shoot for fun. I shoot for art. I shoot for the pure joy.

“Being retired has a lot of advantages, it allows me to be a full-time amateur photographer. I have a small studio in my home, and a beautiful, backyard on a lake.

“Over time, friends have asked me for copies of some of my prints. This caused me to think (which is always dangerous in a retired lawyer).

“You see, I’ve been dealt a less than great hand by fate. Let’s put it this way—death is inevitable, mine is just a little more inevitable.

“My photography is a way to immortality. If I can capture what I saw as true or beautiful, and someone else can see, in the photograph, what I saw or felt, then something of me will live on.”

He was an active Mason and treasured his friendships at Temple Lodge No. 65, Westport.  He regretted that ill health prevented him from participating with his brothers of Dodge County Lodge No. 72. 

A visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Wednesday, March 21, at Murray Funeral Home, 131 East Maple Ave. Beaver Dam. 

Since the theatre was Tony’s life-long love and “backstage” was his favorite place in all the world, memorial contributions in his name may be made to the BDACT Capital Campaign, c/o Annette Kamps, 308 Prospect Ave., Beaver Dam, WI 53916.

Posted 03/18 at 04:02 AM

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