Antonio de Gregorio held an Award of Arms, was a member of the Queen's Order of Grace, and had been admitted to the Order of the Friendly Castle of Cynagua.
Tony Mark, whom many knew as Antonio de Gregorio, has flown away. The world is diminished by the measure of one good man: wise, gentle, clever, totally unpretentious, a mesmerizing story-teller, gourmet cook, brilliant actor and good friend to many. He would not want an overblown eulogy, but I will say that much because it is true.
Tony had suffered from congestive heart failure for several years. In the last few his health had decayed. He had flown to Philadelphia to see his daughters and grandchildren, perhaps sensing the chill of time on his neck, and knowing it would be his last visit. On the way back he fell ill, so the airliner made an unscheduled stop in Phoenix. His girlfriend and daughters flew out to be with him in the hospital. He slipped in and out of consciousness, and finally away forever at about 4:30 p.m., Mountain Time.
It is too soon for memories, and I am not sure where to begin anyway. Tony was just always there, and always willing to help, even when he bled from his own wounds.
But I will miss his sense of humor most of all. -- Edward of South-Haven
As SCA Target Archers, we all had a ‘code’ to make sure we hit the target, as none of us ever liked retrieving our arrows from the tall grasses at most places we practiced. It made us better Archers! In the 1980s, if we practiced enough and did our best each time we pulled a bow, let an arrow fly and hit the target – we had won the day!
We all compared notes on how we did after each practice, often over lunch and refreshing beverages. It was what we did in those days. Someone always kept our scores and we competed in friendly competition.
There was really never any pressure, except with oneself to improve each time. Most of us were happy just to hit the target in those early days of old, when Antonio and I practiced SCA Target Archery together! Ah, the days of bows and arrows!
Then, there were those times when we all armed up for War Archery! We played hard and at the end of the day, we knew a great time was had by all. It was not an easy sport! Running around on a field shooting at each other with bird-blunts on the end of wooden arrows, pulling a bow that could be no more than 30 # or shooting at armed SCA fighters and hoped they noticed they were hit — well now, that just seems silly! Last month, we admitted we had fun doing War Archery – back when we were much younger.
As we all did within the SCA, volunteer work ‘made things happen’ so we could all play and enjoy whatever activity or event we did next. Some people lose sight of this and there is really no one to keep track of who does what – in all reality. People like Antonio de Gregorio were just always there at events — doing some ‘thing’ to help. He was as unpretentious as ever, never thought a thing of working long hours to make a good time for all.
And, he had a smile and kind words – always! Antonio was, indeed, a kind and gentle man. We laughed together and shared a camaraderie of ‘kind friends and companions’ and lifted a glass to ‘A Health To The Company’ with a common interest that lasted almost 30 years — until June 25, 2009 when time stood still for Antonio.
On my visits out West over these years, since I moved away from the West, Antonio was usually present at our mini-reunion gatherings in Golden Rivers. And, so it was on May 17, 2009, Antonio, as his mundane self, Tony Mark, in a Hawaiian shirt and sat next to me, as a small group in Golden Rivers had wonderful mini-reunion gathering dinner night of mutual s haring, telling old stories, relating new stories, having great laughs, sharing our thoughts, talking about our families and talking about some subjects ‘less talked about’ in the SCA: aging and illness.
We had come full circle and then swung back to stories that caused us all to have more great belly laughs! It was a memorable, wonderful and lovely evening and we took photos!
Antonio told us that he would be going to Philadelphia in June for his granddaughter’s graduation. And, he did! I am so glad he did that!
On his way home from Philadelphia, his plane had to make an emergency stop for him in Phoenix to get him to a hospital ER.
All too soon — Antonio soared to the Ethers, free from the confines of what physical life had been offering him in recent years. I believe that he had done what he needed to and was called home.
On May 17, as we all said our evening “fare-thee-well’s,” we agreed, ‘we would see each other at our next reunion’ — not knowing it had just been our last with Antonio in our midst. So, Antonio, our next reunion will need to be in the Ethers, my friend!
A kind-hearted, sweet, jovial man with a great sense of humor has now left our midst. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him, especially by this Archery Buddy!
Godspeed, dear gentle Soul — I always enjoyed the good times we had every time our paths crossed over the decades. Thank you for sharing your gentle nature with me and with so many others. Godspeed, Antonio.
Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again.
Our ship lies at harbor, she’s ready to dock
I hope she’s safe landed without any shock
If ever we should meet again by land or by sea
I will always remember your kindness to me.
From Antonio’s ‘Archery Buddy’ with Great Respect & Love,
~ Countess Dierdriana of the Misty Isles
When we were in the SCA, there were certain people we would always find and hang around with. Tony was one of those.
I still remember all the times Tony and Fred and I would get together to "make some noise" and play music (well they played music, I made noise) for the various belly dancers we knew. I also remember Tony having to care for his aging father, a somewhat surly and demanding Chinese man. (Tony once told me his ancestry was Chinese and Mexican, a curious blend, and so split the difference in his SCA persona by calling himself an Italian merchant.)
We also played Dungeons and Dragons together a few times. I still have Tony's character sheets from those games. One of our favorite was the Lair of the Hosehead, a special Canadian adventure he created just for Heather. (I was Molson the Golden, a fighter whose main weapon was a hockey stick, and Heather was her Uncle Don, whose familiar was a cursing budgee. Our roommates had other characters included Constable Tom and Jeannie Manitoba...)
One night after lots of drink and playing, Fred was on the drums and I was doing something with strings, and Tony started singing, horribly off-tune and happily, in a mock-Middle-Eastern style:
One day.... I go to Da---vis..... To see Hea--ther.... and Ma--a--tt...She's very prett--ie... and he's lo -u-d...The song was never finished. We can all be grateful for that.
Investiture -- Principality of Cynagua (January 30, 1982, AS XVI)
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