When Tony Anderson, a 45-year-old former Hastings pastor, died suddenly about a month ago, his wife, Kim, felt that everything leading to that moment has been because of divine intervention
Tony and his family spent about 10 years in Hastings where he was pastor at North Shore Assembly of God Church before they returned to the family’s home state of Arkansas in 2011.
“Tony would have stayed in Nebraska forever, but us both being born and raised here and our parents getting older and our siblings living here, I was homesick,” Kim said Monday from Siloam Springs, Ark.
Tony had served as an Assembly of God pastor in two Arkansas communities before Kim said her husband felt a pull from God to go to Nebraska.
They stayed for about 10 years before Kim said the cold and snowy winters in Nebraska, which she hated, and a yearning for home made her ask him to return to Arkansas.
“He loved me and my kids so much he gave it up,” she said of life in Nebraska. “He absolutely lived and breathed it, but he loved us more. We prayed for it, and God opened a door, so we came home.”
The family spent about two years in Arkansas with their family where Tony worked for Airgas, a job he had found through a friend in Hastings.
“It’s been a great two years,” Kim said. “We just had the best two years in Arkansas before he passed.”
Tony died suddenly of a heart attack on Jan. 19, two months after Kim said he first started having chest pains.
Doctors initially diagnosed him with asthma. Later, they performed an EKG and stress test. Tony’s final diagnosis before his death was the finding of a hernia.
Kim said the hernia medication helped to alleviate the pain for a short time.
The day before he died, Kim said, Tony started having chest pains again but that didn’t stop him from working in the yard and completing a woodworking project, something Kim said he loved to do.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, Tony went with the family to church, ate dinner and then met some friends for basketball. It was on the court where he suffered the heart attack and collapsed.
“They tried for an hour and a half to revive him, but he just went to the Lord,” Kim said. “I miss him like crazy, but I’m so glad he was doing what he loved and was with friends.”
The funeral service was two days later at the Decatur Assembly of God Church where Tony’s brother, Kirk, is the pastor.
Kim said more than 600 people attended the service, including about 40 people from Hastings, who made the nine-hour drive.
“It was the perfect celebration of Tony and his life,” Kim said. “He’s here. His remains are here in Siloam Springs in our family plot. I just went to see it for the first time this morning. It was so peaceful.”
Kim said the love, support, prayers and outpourings of kindness from people all over, including friends in Nebraska has been overwhelming.
The tribute page to Tony on the Backstrom-Pyeatte Funeral Home’s website included several messages from Tony’s former Hastings area parishioners.
“Pastor Tony was a great man,” wrote Britney Gibson of Juniata. “I enjoyed going to church when he was pastor. He made it fun and helped me get closer to God. Because of him, I still pursue God and attend youth group.”
Many talked about Tony’s love of golf and how he’s probably playing a great game in heaven.
The Rev. Chris Johnson of North Shore Assembly of God worked with Tony for about nine years and described Tony as “a great man of God.”
“He had a lot of energy. He was always going,” Johnson said.
Johnson described him as a mentor and friend who prepared the church for its continued success upon his departure.
“He brought a lot of energy, life and excitement to the church and anybody he was around,” Johnson added.
Tony is survived by his wife; daughter, Paige; and son, Payton, all of Siloam Springs, Ark.; his parents, Bill and Sharon Anderson of West Fork, Ark.; and his brother, Kirk Anderson, and his wife, Pam, of Decatur, Ark.