ANTHONY "TONY" GEORGE POLIGONO
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~Anthony (Tony) George Poligono, age 88, of Bullhead City, Ariz. died in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday, January 4, 2014, but not in the way one might hope! Although he would have been the first to joke about his circumstances, a long string of ailments eventually took their toll, and he went to join the big Dixieland jazz jam session in the sky.
~Tony was born in San Francisco on May 21, 1925 to Fortunato and Josie Poligono (nee Rancatore). As he often liked to say when he thought someone was trying to hoodwink him, he was "born at night, but not last night." As a child, when he wasn't getting into trouble, he took various odd jobs like selling newspapers and driving horse-drawn produce carts through his neighborhood in the Mission District. A skilled sprinter, he lettered in track and soccer when he was in high school. He was also a talented drummer, and joined the school jazz band.
~When World War II broke out, Tony left high school to enlist in the Coast Guard. After spending time in "boot camp" in San Diego, he was assigned to the USS Hunter Liggett (APA-14), an amphibious transport that was shipped to the South Pacific theater. Tony participated in the invasions at Bouganville and Guadalcanal, as well as a number of other battles in the South Pacific. He witnessed a number of atrocities, and his ship came under attack several times; but he miraculously escaped unhurt.
~After the war, he declined the assistance of the G.I. Bill and chose not to finish school so he could go straight to work and make his way in the world. He married Evelyn Erlich and had three children: Keith, Karen, and Lori. His passion was music, and although he worked as a professional drummer, it didn't earn enough to feed his family, so he worked two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. His greatest heartache came when his only son Keith died at the age of 7.
~Some time later, his marriage ended; but he re-married to Yasuko Aoki. They had two daughters: Linda and Lora and moved to Marin County, Calif.
~Along the way, he found his professional "calling" in property management and real estate investment, where he did most of his own repair and renovation work. Here he found great financial success, as well as an outlet for his boundless creativity. His ability to conceive of and execute renovation and landscaping projects -- all without anything ever being put down on paper -- astounded everyone around him.
~After his marriage to Yasuko ended, Tony married Cynthia Estrellanes, who cared for him through the rest of his life, and who shared his love of jazz music. They built a home together in Bullhead City, Ariz. Tony also adopted Cynthia's son William.
~When Tony "retired" (he never stopped working, only changed his focus), he returned to his passion for music and formed the Alcatra Angels Dixieland jazz band. The Angels performed at many jazz festivals in the U.S. and Canada, and was known for its authentic New Orleans two-beat sound.
~Eventually, illness prevented Tony from being able to perform, but he maintained his ready sense of humor. He also enjoyed giving to people in need, and donated to jazz organizations, people in the Philippines, and individuals he knew who needed help.
~Tony is survived by his widow Cynthia; four daughters; son and stepson; sisters, Mary and Theresa; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Desert Lawn Funeral Home
9250 S. Ranchero Lane
Mohave Valley, AZ 86440
Published in Mohave Daily News Online from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6, 2014