Gibson City, IL – Gibson City Police Lieutenant Anthony “Tony” Row died at his home on March 23, following a nine-month battle with colon cancer.
Lt. Row, 44, began chemotherapy treatment soon after he was diagnosed in June of 2018, The News-Gazette reported.
“I just decided I'm not going to accept it," he told the Ford County Record at the time. "I mean, I'm going to die when I'm going to die, but I'm not going to be the kind of guy who sits around and mopes around and feels sorry for himself and waits for it. I'm going to keep doing what I do and be there for my kids and try to make [life] as normal as possible."
With the support of his community and fellow officers, Lt. Row continued to serve his department as much as his heath would allow during the year preceding his tragic death.
“Everybody's just come out and rallied around us,” he told The News-Gazette in 2018. “I haven't had to want for anything or even ask for anything. As a matter of fact, I've got to ask for people to kind of stop [helping] because I feel bad they're doing so much for me, to be honest with you.”
People helped out by washing the family’s vehicles, mowing their lawn, making financial donations, and bringing them meals.
“A group of kids did a lemonade stand and just raised an incredible amount of money for a lemonade stand,” Lt. Row said. "That's just the generosity of the people in this town."
The veteran officer passed away at his home at 8:30 p.m., “surrounded by his loving and devoted family,” according to his obituary.
Lt. Row began his law enforcement career by serving the Nokomis Police Department and the Hillsboro Police Department.
He was later hired as a correctional officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, and also served with the East Dubuque Police Department and the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Row joined the Gibson City Police Department as a K9 officer in 2009, The News-Gazette reported.
He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2017.
Lt. Row also served as a firearms instructor during his career, and spent eight years in the Naval Reserves, according to his obituary.
“Mr. Row loved his family, friends and the community he served,” his obituary read. “He was humbled by and grateful for the love and support he received throughout his battle with cancer.”
Gibson City Police Chief Adam Rosendahl said that Lt. Row was loved by everyone in the community.
"You won't find anybody who has anything bad to say about Tony Row,” Chief Rosendahl told The News-Gazette. "Arrestees, senior citizens, kids — everybody was treated with respect.”
Resident and cancer survivor Dawn Parenti agreed.
"He was a dear friend and an honest man who always showed me and my children nothing but respect," Parenti told the Ford County Record. “He was a strong man who faced all of his fears head-on. He will definitely be missed in our community…Thankfully, there is no cancer in heaven.”
Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran said that he worked with Lt. Row for many years.
“I called him a friend and really want to pray for his family," Sheriff Doran said. "He was just a great guy, and I'll miss him a lot."
Lt. Row leaves behind his wife, Stacey, his children, Abigail, Emily, and Tyler, as well as his father, brothers, and sisters, his obituary read.
“We’re trying to pull together and be there for the family,” Chief Rosendahl told The News-Gazette. “[They] are all in our prayers, and we’ll do anything and everything we can for them to help them get through this.”
Lt. Row will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Gibson City Police Lieutenant Anthony “Tony” Row, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.