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Former Muncy Mayor remembered for ‘leadership’

MUNCY — Friends of the late Anthony G. “Tony” Rizzo Jr. acknowledged a man of military precision, patriotism and who committed his life to his beloved, adopted borough and community.

“He was always doing everything in a military fashion, especially at meetings,” said Charles Shreck, quartermaster and past commander at the Edward J. Smith Post 3428, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Rizzo was a regular presence at the annual Muncy Memorial Day Parade, which in this borough remains a big deal as military personnel — active and retired — march down Main Street, holding flags and sporting their uniforms. The parades end up at the cemetery along Penn Street for a solemn service of remembrance. Rizzo would either march or ride in a car, Shreck said.

“He will be remembered for his leadership at the post,” Shreck said.

Recently, friends and colleagues gathered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post to raise their glasses in a toast to Tony, Shreck said.

Rizzo also belonged to the Roland Ritter American Legion Post 268, also of Muncy. In a telephone call to the American Legion, Rizzo was described as a life-member by Angela Shaylor, the post manager.

“He was a wonderful man,” said Becky Davis, a friend, who wrote a tribute to him. Davis and her father were friends at the local VFW and she lit a candle in his remembrance.

“He was a great neighbor,” said Denny and Becky DeWald.

For most of his life, Rizzo lived at Sprout Road. His house was immaculate, grass kept trimmed, leaves rakes and collected, snow removed and his Chevrolet Caprice was parked in the driveway, which he kept spotless with constant washes.

Rizzo was not a native of Lycoming County. Born in Hazelton, Luzerne County, he spoke a dialect that could be detected as a man from the coal region.

“I know he took great pride in being mayor,” said Dan Doyle, a friend and fellow member of the Church of the Resurrection.

A practicing Catholic, Rizzo was among the more visible members and mayors.

“He took pride in his military service,” Doyle said.

Doyle recalled a day when he saw a photograph of Rizzo among World War II troops wearing skis and in the snow in appropriate winter attire.

“It meant a lot to him,” Doyle said of Rizzo’s wartime experience. After the war, he returned to work as a lineman for PPL, a company from which he retired.

Over the years, because the borough has a weak-mayor form of government, it was not easy to distinguish whether policy was a decision of Rizzo or the existing borough council.

Rizzo stood his ground on policy he felt was best for the borough and let the council and administration know his feelings.

For example, when the Muncy Bank and Trust Co. wanted to site a branch in a historic district of the borough, Rizzo supported the move, despite opposition because of the nature of the historic district in the southern part of Main Street.

Once the plans and design were presented, however, the building was designed to match the area decor and has become a valuable community asset, according to Doyle.

The duties a borough mayor consisted of mundane tasks. He would help the police chief remove signage after events and after his term was up, the ex-mayor took part in a little levity, such as being tapped annually to select the most luscious pair of lips in a contest at the Meck Muncy Senior Center.

No, he didn’t kiss the contestants.

Each participant made a lip print on paper and Rizzo selected it based on its lucious layers and color.

The winner in 2009 was Edna Hurst, and Rizzo enjoyed judging the contest through 2011, the Muncy Luminary said.

In addition to his church membership, Rizzo was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, serving through the organization and its many civic activities.

On any given Saturday, Rizzo could be seen supporting Penn State Nittany Lions and his professional favorite — the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also loved to spend his free time with his grandchildren.

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