At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Tony Vaickus, it is easy to see that he brought such joy to those around him. He was a man of many gifts and talents, but there was nothing he loved more than blessing others with his skills. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, Tony was a humble man whose greatest joy was found in the sons he cherished. Adventurous and free-spirited, he was the sort of person who was willing to do anything once. Life will never be the same without Tony here, but the lives of so many others will be forever changed because of his touch.
The 1970s were a colorful time in American history. The discord we experienced during the 1960s remained, but the American spirit continued to stir with the desire to explore and learn new things. Amidst this excitement was a time of great delight in the lives of Kenneth and Carol Vaickus as they were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Anthony John on September 25, 1971, at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Later on, Tony’s stepfather, Ron Olszewski, became part of his life. Tony was the second of his three siblings including Dawn, Erin, and Scott. He loved sitting on the curb eating jars of banana baby food that were meant for his baby brother Scott. When he was little he didn’t even know that his name was Anthony, as his mother found out when his teacher informed her that he wouldn’t answer when she called him. His teacher thought he was just being difficult! On the contrary, he just thought his name was Tony!
In 1981, Tony came to Michigan for the first time when his stepfather’s sister and husband were looking for a cottage. His mother and stepfather unexpectedly came home as part owners in a cottage on Dewey Lake. They loved sharing the cottage with friends and family, and it was the place Tony loved to be. In 1985, they moved to Michigan permanently. He attended local schools including Dowagiac High School, but he graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in Palos Illinois in 1989.
After graduating from high school, Tony was eager for all that life had in store. He attended Lincoln Tech in Chicago where he learned mechanical trade skills, and when he moved back to Michigan he started his career as a builder. Tony learned most everything he knew from his stepfather, and it has been said that he could frame, finish, or fix just about anything. His career as a builder started when he was a teen who helped his father build homes on the weekends and during the summer. The first home Tony ever built was for his rabbit when he was 11 years old. He owned and operated Forest Construction Company, which was named because Tony liked the idea of the trees in the forest and being able to create a home for people out of those trees. He had a natural creative vision, and the first few houses he built he drew and planned on his own. Tony’s work wasn't without a few mishaps as he fell off the roof and right into the dumpster when building his very first house! He also built Lindal Cedar Homes. His talent was so appreciated there as the owner of the company called Tony an “Old World Carpenter.” His framing work was as good as his finish work. Tony often saved the scrap from these homes and built bird houses. Tony also spent several years working as a building inspector. He purchased the company Rural Inspections. Although people typically don’t enjoy seeing building inspectors, people enjoyed seeing Tony because he was such a great conversationalist. One of the things that made him so amazing at his work was Tony’s knack for seeing things that others couldn't see as he was a natural perfectionist.
There was never anything of greater importance to Tony than his loved ones. He was married to Karen whom he met at a bar in Sister Lakes. They shared a love of motorsports, especially snowmobiling. Tony and Karen were married on November 21, 1999 at Paw Paw United Methodist Church and although they loved anything with high octane they rode off in an elegant horse-drawn carriage that day. Together they welcomed two sons, Drew and Ross, into their hearts and home. There was never anything Tony treasured more than the days that each of his sons were born. Their family enjoyed vacations to Silver Lake to ride four wheelers and dirt bikes and also to Cedar Point. Many memorable trips were also taken to Karen’s parents’ home on the beautiful beaches of Siesta Key. Tony made life so much fun. He taught his family to never stop playing, how to ride on the handlebars on a bike, and even how to pee in the driveway! He enjoyed teaching his sons how to wrench on cars, especially his beloved 1966 GTO. His love of family and life on the lake were his greatest joys.
All who knew Tony would agree that there was no one quite like him. He was so much fun from the time he was a young boy, and he could make people laugh for hours. Tony liked torturing people in the boat as he was known for doing his power spin, which nearly flung people out of the boat. Tony also knew how to make people a little sick while tubing, too, as his goal wasn't to give someone a fun ride, but rather to flip the tuber! It was a day to remember when Tony found what became his GTO while inspecting a house in Three Rivers. Although it took some work, he finally convinced the owner to sell it to him. Tony always loved cars, but it had to be a Ford - unless it was his ’66 GTO. Remote control planes and boats were his other hobby, and he was often out on the lake with his boats early in the morning when the lake was calm or flying his planes at a sod farm in Decatur, often with his buddy, Todd. He also liked snowmobiling in Canada and the UP and listening to rock music from bands like AC/DC, Jimmy Hendrix, and Bob Marley while riding in the boat.
With a spirit of generosity that was unmatched, Anthony Vaickus blessed so many around him. He was a gifted mechanic, and his building skills were second to none, but it was his zest for life for which he was best known. Tony was deeply devoted to his family, and his sons were his greatest source of pride and joy. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
Anthony John Vaickus died on July 4, 2018. Tony’s family includes his mother, Carol Whitney; former wife of 15 years, Karen; 2 children: Drew and Ross; 3 siblings: Dawn (Tim) Stelmasiak, Erin (Brian) Reeves, and Scott Olszewski; and many nieces and nephews. Tony was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Vaickus. Visit with family and friends on Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy (269) 657-3870 where services will be held at 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Chamberlin Cemetery. Please visit Tony’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Simple Truth Church assisting in addiction recovery.