Michael Anthony “Tony” Friga passed away peacefully at his home in Pomona surrounded by his loving wife and children on Tuesday morning, May 19, 2020, at the age of 88.
He was born on Feb. 2, 1932, in Swifton, Ark., to Michael and Rosa (Pazdera) Friga, the fifth of eight children. He married the love of his life, Barbara Daniels, on Nov. 10, 1951, in Willow Springs. Through their 68 years of marriage, they shared their love and faith with seven children, 19 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and countless extended family and friends.
Tony worked many jobs, including road and bridge construction, before opening his family business, Tony’s Tire Service in West Plains, Mo., in 1966. After retiring from the tire business, his interest in farm implements led him to open and operate Southern Missouri Tractor in Willow Springs for several years.
Throughout his life, Tony never knew a stranger. He loved to work with people and serve his community and church. He served for years on the boards of St. Mary’s Catholic School, West Plains, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Willow Springs.
He worked diligently to provide rural water service to people around Willow Springs. Tony was a founding member of the Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Association (EDGE), where he shared his love of steam engines with the public through tractor shows in the area.
Tony was very proud of attaining the level of Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus. He was a charter member and Past Grand Knight of the Bishop Sheen Council 7442, and a charter member and Past Faithful Navigator of the Pope John Paul II Assembly 3196.
Tony loved to fish, garden, dance, play cards and games, and put together puzzles. He spent many hours fixing up his steam engine and Model T and his dad’s Chevy. He loved traveling with his wife to vacation and visit family all across the country and overseas. But the place he loved best was his home in the Ozarks.
And the people he loved the most were the family he built with his wife, Barbara, including three sons and four daughters and their families: Kem and Debbie Friga of Pomona, and children, Tony (Laura) Friga, Nikki (Brian) Langford and Lea Ann (Jacob) Heuser; Gary Friga, deceased; Pam and Earl Henry of Pomona, and children, Melissa (Michael) Dirienzo, Amber (Wayne) Wollesen, Kate (Golum) Maruf and Betsy Henry; Rodney and Cathy Friga of Willow Springs, and children Kelli (Skyler) Leach, Laura (Brian) Jens, Kayla Friga and Dane Friga; Brenda and Bill Jackson of Pomona, and children, Heather (Isaac) Mann, Bill (Jessica) Jackson, Brian (Shenna) Jackson and David Jackson; Diane and John Stir of Weston, and children, Emily (Jeremiah) Tylski and Luke Stir; and Anita and Chuck Todd of Concord, Calif., and children, Sienna Todd and Sheridan Todd; and numerous great-grandchildren.
Tony is also survived by two brothers Ralph Friga and Alfred Friga, one sister Rosalia Friga and numerous extended family members. He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and two brothers, and his son, Gary Friga.
A private family funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Willow Springs, with a celebration of life planned for later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Tony’s memory to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Mtn. Grove which may be left at the funeral home. Arrangements are under the direction of Willow Funeral Home LLC. Online condolences may be left at www.willowspringsfuneralhome.com.