Anthony Adam Hellman
3.28.1950 - 11.18.2018
He very bravely took me out to restaurants before I was old enough to use the ladies room without a helper... even when I screamed from atop the toilet, "Uncle Toooonnnyy.... I'm doooonnnee!" and he had to frantically ask a waitress to please help me 'finish'. He once took me to the top of the space needle... I think I was about 5. Still the only time I've ever been up there.
In grade school his home was a refuge in times of turmoil. I was always grateful for cartoons like Foghorn Leghorn, which he loved... but not as much as he loved his beloved NASCAR! I detested the Miracle Whip sandwiches he insisted were divine and I recall him getting 'fake grumpy'... all bark and no bite... especially when the pesky neighbor kids would run a ruckus outside his patio door.
Later when I had worked so hard to save up $1000 dollars for a car after turning 16... he took me car shopping... The Northwest's greatest car salesman... and against his better judgement he let me pick out a purple dodge neon. One look at my beaming smile and he clearly caved to indulge my teenage wishes! He put the remaining balance on his credit card and allowed me to give him monthly $100 payments, but only for about a year... then for Christmas he said I didn't owe him anything more.
During my senior year in high school I had a fall out with family and moved into an apartment with my best friend Leta and a male roommate. When that man assaulted me and I needed to escape, my best friend and I immediately had sanctuary with grandma and Tony. They were my safe place on so many occasions.
Earlier this year we spent a handful of weeks together where we watched way too much Matlock, Andy Griffith, and Gomer Pyle USMC.. He used phrases like, "I just need to wet my whistle" and "I'm gonna snarf down this food"... and several others that make me blush so I won't repeat them. He shared lots of stories of grand adventures of him as a pretty stupid teenager, they were hilarious and frightening.. driving fast, crashing hard, living on the edge. But my favorite story he ever told was this summer while out to dinner... he recounted the day he decided to give-up drinking. More than a decade ago on a Sunday afternoon he had just poured himself another glass... staring at it he fell to his knees and began to cry, desperate for the drink to stop controlling his life. He was fortunate to have a wonderful GP doctor that he called up that very day. And by Monday he was checking into an inpatient detox center where he spent about a month. My big strong stubborn ornery Uncle Tony... humbled himself, asked for help, and chose freedom. He never drank again. He told us that story after I asked him what he was most proud of... and I can say that I too am most proud of him for having victory over alcohol and by so doing most likely extended these last years we got to have with him making memories.
I read every comment (over 100) left on the Art Gamblin Facebook page about Tony... wow, he was loved by so many people. His incredible attention to detail and ability to recall specifics made everyone feel welcomed and special! He truly cared about his customers and had enormous integrity giving excellence to his work.
Uncle Tony - I thank God for you. I won't forget your laughter. I won't forget your strength, resilience, and love for people. I hope I carry those traits with me in life as a testament to your legacy. Love you always.