Ante was born on May 1, 1944, in the small village Kucine, located close to the coast of what is now Dalmatia, Croatia. He was the youngest of four children and from all accounts most precocious child of his father, Fabijan Matkovic and his mother Matija Matkovic. Wanting a life of freedom and adventure, Ante escaped from communist Yugoslavia to start a new life in Canada landing on these shores when he was in is very early twenties. Although Croatia would always be his fist home, Ante was proud to be Canadian and treasured the opportunities and freedoms he had in this country.
Ante met his soulmate, best friend and love of his life, “his Ana”, Anica Matkovic, in 1970 and together they began their new, sometimes rocky but always exciting adventure. They have one daughter together, Matia (“Tia”) who had the incredible benefit of being raised by these two amazing individuals. With the loss of her beloved Tony, Ana has lost her best friend, her support and her compass in this world. Tia has lost her consummate debate partner who never failed to challenge her thoughts and views of this world, her never-ending source of support and strength and the best possible dad anyone could be lucky enough to have. For Ana and for Tia, Ante was their hero, and he will forever be missed.
Ante was a storyteller and charmer who loved engaging with everyone around him. After his retirement, Ante became the go-to person in the neighbourhood to fix almost anything that was broken, particularly lawnmowers, and in short order became known to everyone as “Tony the lawnmower guy” allowing him to constantly meet new people many of which would become his friends. Ante was also a lifelong soccer fan. After having played in his youth, after moving to Canada and settling down with his family, Ante spent many years coaching men’s soccer in Calgary. He later coached children’s community soccer and often said that watching children enjoy playing and learning this game was some of the most fun he has ever had.
Ante faced numerous health and other challenges in his life. He battled each an everyone of those challenges with the most amazing and enduring sense of humour and a belief that each and every joke he told was undeniably funny even if no one else in the room agreed.
Ante passed away on the morning of October 4, 2023 after a brief illness moving on to his next great adventure. Although the rest of that day was cloudy, the sun was out in full force as Ante left us. He will be missed by his beloved Ana, his loving daughter, Tia, his “baby kitties” Bella and Mala, and by so many others who knew were lucky enough to know him. Ante will also be missed by Aurelia who is Ana’s caregiver but who Ante thought of as a member of his extended family.
Don’t stand by my grave and weep,
For I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint of snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning, hush.
For I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circle flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die.
– Hopi Grief Song/Prayer