Anthony Tobin Layng
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Layng, Anthony Tobin

Winston-Salem, NC: Anthony (Tony) Layng, a Winston-Salem tennis enthusiast and an emeritus professor of anthropology, died on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (He would want it pointed out that he has neither "gone" somewhere nor "passed over" anything.) He was born in 1932 in New Jersey to Grant and Virginia Leonard Layng. A life-long religious skeptic, he graduated from Solebury Prep School, completed undergraduate work at Rollins College and Columbia University, and received an M.A. from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Case Western Reserve. He was awarded a Purple Heart as a U.S. Marine in the Korean War. He was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi for four years and was a leader for Operation Crossroads Africa in Lesotho.

The National Institute of Mental Health supported his ethnographic research on the Carib Reserve in Dominica in the Caribbean, and he worked under John Hope Franklin as a Danforth Foundation Fellow in Black Studies at the University of Chicago. He taught at Washington, Tougaloo, Rollins, and Oberlin colleges in addition to 20 years at Elmira College in New York, from which he retired in 1997. It was then that he, with his beloved wife Donna, settled in Winston-Salem and taught as an adjunct professor at Wake Forest. Donna Layng is a well-known artist in the area and was Tony's favorite doubles tennis partner.

Tony was active locally as a Shepherd's Center Board member and volunteer, and he regularly taught in their Adventures in Learning Program. He also served on the Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission, the Board of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Chateau Ridge Homeowners Association Board as its president. He was a member of the Wake Forest Tennis Center and an active participant in USTA league play.

He is the author of a University Press of America book on the Carib Indians of Dominica and numerous journal and magazine articles on the nature of religion, women, black Americans, American Indians, human sexuality, and evolution. He devoted his professional career to promoting critical thinking and challenging biblical literalism. His students were consistently encouraged to develop a cross-cultural perspective on customary human behavior and to recognize as well as see beyond their own cultural biases.

Tony enjoyed traveling with his wife, Donna Crossed Layng. They visited numerous Indian reservations in the Southwest, the major cities of Australia, and most of the towns in northern Sicily. They also spent time in Hawaii, Israel, and the Caribbean. His daughter, Kristin Szakos, is a writer and member of the Charlottesville, Virginia, City Council, and her husband Joe is Director of the statewide group Virginia Organizing. They have two daughters, Anna and Maria. Tony's stepdaughter, Maria Greer, is a child protective social worker supervisor in High Point. His granddaughter Celena Greer is a rising freshman at Reynolds High School in Winton-Salem. His stepsons Ben Bodewes, a technical support analyst at Frontier Communications and Andy Bodewes, Vice President of Conifer Realty, their wives Kim (Sullivan) and Tina (Tokarski), and his four other grandchildren, Jarred, Jennifer, Sarah, and Jessica, live in Rochester, NY. He is also survived by his older brother and sister-in-law, Geoffrey and Madi Layng of San Clemente, California, and by a surrogate daughter, Helena Cargill, and her family in Nassau, Bahamas.

The family asks that donations in Tony's memory be made to the Shepherd's Center of Greater Winston-Salem (1700 Ebert St., Winston-Salem, NC 27103) or to the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home (101 Hospice Lane, Winston-Salem, NC 27103).


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Published in Star-Gazette on Jun. 14, 2011.
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16 entries
July 21, 2011
Donna,
We are saddened to hear of Tony's death. Tony was a brilliant man, a good neighbor, and an ardent nature lover as evidenced by his care for the woodland area surrounding our little ridgeside community. He will be missed.
George Doyle
June 29, 2011
Tony Layng was my professor, mentor, and friend during my time at Elmira College from 1980-1984. I learned much of what I know about anthropology from him. He was also very supportive of my work and encouraged my to continue my studies.

Tony was a remarkable man of many talents. He also had some strong progressive political beliefs that he put into action. I greatly benefited from his sharing with me his experiences working in the Deep South with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Kristin, your father was a remarkable person and I shall miss him. Having worked for some years with the American Friends Service Committee, in the Quaker tradition, I shall hold him, you, and your family in the light. You have my deep sympathy and solidarity.

Yours in peace,
David
David Amdur
June 29, 2011
Tony Layng was my main professor and mentor during my time at Elmira College from 198-1984. He was very supportive of my work an encouraged me to continue my studies in anthropology.

Tony was also a man of many talents and also strong progressive political convictions. His work in the Deep South with the Civil Rights Movement was remarkable. I greatly appreciated his sharing some of his experiences with me.

Kristin, your father was a remarkable person. You have my sympathies and solidarity. Having work for some years with the American Friends Service Committee I very much hold Tony, you, and your family in the light.

Yours in peace,
David
David Amdur
June 16, 2011
Donna,
I was playing tennis tonight and Marylou told me about Tony. I am so sorry for your loss. What an interesting life the two of you had. May the many great memories help you in the days ahead. Love, Liz
Elizabeth Lamphear
June 16, 2011
Donna,
Very sorry to read of Tony's death. However, I did love those opening lines about euphemisms. Left out of the obit was Tony's talent at car renovation, which may have been short lived. I remember once he bought a car which was lacking a sun roof. So, he bought a sun roof from the dealer, cut a hole himself in the roof and installed.
He was a great guy.
Andy Rothstein
June 15, 2011
Kristin, I am so sorry about your loss. I know what complicated fathers are all about, having one myself. Your family is in the thoughts and prayers of both Shawn and myself.
Nina Gregory
June 15, 2011
Donna, I'm so sorry to hear about Tony. You two were the nicest most pleasant couple when you played on my mixed doubles tennis team. You are in my prayers.
Mitzi Griffin Cartrette
June 14, 2011
Donna, I was very sorry to see Tony's obituary today. He was a good colleague for many years here at EC. Please know that you & he are in my thoughts.
Bob Shephard
June 14, 2011
Donna, It is with great sympathy that I read of the death of your beloved Tony. He was a great human being, and an amazing athlete. I have very fond memories of our tennis exploits. What a competitor! He always made the person he played with a better player. One of the nicest and most considerate people on the planet. He will be missed by many, and certainly remembered by many. All the best to you...Hal McKinnon
June 14, 2011
My husband and I were both students of Tony's at Elmira College and remember him so fondly. He challenged us to think, not simply to feel or to believe, and we are the better for it. He will be missed.

Karen Bishop Oakes EC '97
Karen Oakes
June 14, 2011
Dear Donna, I write this from upstate NY. The "lunch bunch" tennis guys will sorely miss Tony. He was a terrific fellow and a wonderful tennis partner/nemesis. I am very impressed with the bio in the obit, making me wish I had had a chance to get to know him better.

Best, David Levy
David Levy
June 14, 2011
Donna,
So Sorry to hear. We will miss his smiling face. You have a wealth of memories and friends whose thoughts are with you.
Jeanne Simonelli
June 14, 2011
Donna,
It's been a long time since our days at ECHS, but wanted you to know that I was sorry to read about your husband. You are in my prayers.
June 14, 2011
Donna,
I was so saddened to hear about Tony. I have good memories of his cheerful presence at Associated Artists events. Please know my thoughts are with you.
Terri Goff
June 14, 2011
Donna,
What a fantastic tribute to Tony. I am so happy that you had all those happy and exciting years together. It was wonderful to read about your adult children and what they are now doing. I remember when all our kids were hanging out at Mt. Saviour with the cows and monks. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Georgia Crissy
June 14, 2011
Donna, we were so sad to learn of Tony's death.God bless you and the family.
Mike & Rhonda Rawlins
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