An extraordinary human being, Tony's suffering through cognitive decline ended peacefully on January 5, 2023, a few months shy of his 84th birthday. He is survived by his grieving family: devoted wife and primary caregiver during his illness, Nancy; the stepdaughter he treasured, Kathleen McCormick; her husband Matt of whom he was so proud; the granddaughters he adored, Madison and Mallory McCormick; and his Goddaughter Emily Violett. Tony is also survived by a close network of friends who are deeply saddened by his passing, as is his faithful dog, Sugar.
The son of deceased parents Vazmoslav and Milica Kraus, Tony's extended family in New York and Croatia includes his sister Josephine Rafajac, nephew Gordon Rafajac, niece Vesna Markarian, and cousins Anita Skok, Dina Jakin, Ruzica Brazan, Vesna Stimac, Laura Dunic, Ivo and Milenko Ljubicic, Rina Vukas.
Anton Kraus was born April 30, 1939, in Rijeka, a large port town on the coast of the Adriatic. Now known as Croatia, at that time it was a country whose borders were Italy and Yugoslavia. As a young boy, he experienced the frightening devastation of war, having to take shelter in a cave with his survival suitcase during air raids. His family later moved to Opatija, not far from Rijeka, a jewel of a resort town on the Adriatic where Tony and Nancy enjoyed happier times on their frequent visits.
Tony grew up loving soccer, basketball, cars, and later, fishing. He excelled on the basketball court such that he is mentioned in a Rijeka history book. In school he studied engineering courses, but it was his love of repairing things that took him to jobs working on large ships in the Rijeka harbor to working on buses and cars. While pursuing his passion for mechanics, he also worked long hours helping in his father's umbrella factory and clothing business.
At a young age, Tony developed a work ethic second to none and a determination to be the best he could be and to do the best that he could under any circumstance, regardless of the challenge it presented. He perfected being a mechanic, and, in retirement, a gardener, woodworker and gourmet chef.
Tony is an immigrant success story. Chosen by Ford Motor Company (while he was working as a mechanic in Switzerland), Tony came to America in his early thirties to work at their automobile factory in New York. When that assignment concluded, he worked for several years in a private repair shop. He spoke four languages at the time, but did not know any English. So, during and after work hours, he taught himself English, both written and verbal. His command of the language, having learned it in such a short time, was testimony to his keen intellect and desire to improve himself.
Tony didn't like the weather in New York. On a vacation to San Francisco, he discovered a very different climate and decided to stay. The next day, he walked the streets of San Francisco looking for work as a mechanic. Eventually, Tony was able to purchase his own gas station and repair shop in SF.
In the early Eighties, Tony moved the business to San Bruno where Tony's Auto Repair was born and is still in business today, under different ownership. His clientele from San Francisco followed him to San Bruno because he is remembered to this day for his honesty, fairness, and skill as a mechanic. He received Best Business Award several times during his ownership of the shop.
In a moment of fate, Tony was introduced to Nancy. They enjoyed a friendship for several years that evolved into a love story. A second marriage for both, Tony and Nancy were together 44 years when Tony passed. He was a devoted and dedicated husband, encouraging his wife in everything she did and willingly sharing in all that it takes to create and maintain a warm home environment, lovingly shared with family and friends.
Tony was devoted to and deeply loved his stepdaughter Kathleen, and his heart also belonged to his granddaughters Madison and Mallory. Not having children of his own, they were the closest thing he had to having little ones he could care for and nurture, attending all their activities, taking them on trips, and giving them the Nutcracker/Elf Night tradition each Christmas. The family meant everything to him – and he was selfless in putting them first.
He loved special times with friends sharing fishing trips, soccer games, travel and discovering new restaurants and wines, but Tony was happiest at home, maintaining his garden, doing remodeling projects, and of course there was his annual outdoor Christmas decorating that lit up the neighborhood.
Tony had a sense of humor, he was warm, smart, talented, courageous, romantic, the consummate gentleman, and loving beyond words. Tony gave and gave of himself – never expecting or wanting anything in return. His magnanimous heart is reflected in loving gestures too numerous to mention, creating memories which remain in the hearts of all who knew and loved Tony. To know him was to love him and be loved by him. His was a life well-lived, guided by love and loyalty.
The family acknowledges with deep appreciation the support system of friends around Tony and Nancy as Tony's illness progressed, and is forever grateful to one of God's angels on Earth, Venessa Malimali, who became Tony's caregiver as his life was coming to an end. The family acknowledges with gratitude Father Joe (St. Dunstan Catholic Church in Millbrae); Vitas Hospice; Lakeview Lodge where Tony spent the last few days of his life; his care team at Kaiser, Drs. Craig Hou and Jeany Tay and the support of staff and neighbors at Cadence Senior Living in Millbrae where Tony and Nancy lived for the past three years.
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