Antonio “Tony” Mendes was called to his eternal reward in Heaven on January 8, 2021 after 92 years of faithful service to his Savior. A devout Catholic, his life centered entirely on his faith and his family. Tony and his wife Lena devoted their lives to raising a large family in their Catholic faith, remaining close with extended family and passing on the traditions of their ancestors. Tony was affectionately known as “Honey” by his wife, “Dad” by his children, “Grandpa” by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and “Tio Tony” or “Uncle Tony” by his extended family. The outpouring of sympathy that we have received at his passing is a testament to the indelible mark that Tony Mendes left on the lives of his family and friends.
Tony was born on February 16, 1928 in Hilmar, California. The son of immigrants Antonio Mendes from Brazil and Maria Mendonca from the Azores, Tony and his sisters Mary, Emily and Rosina were raised on a small family farm. Tony attended Modesto High School and became lifelong best friends with Richard Nancett of Modesto. He attended Modesto JC and then enlisted in the US Army, serving his country in the Korean War. After his return from the service, Richard introduced Tony to Antonina “Lena” Grimaldi, the younger sister of Richard’s wife Carmen. These two best friends would soon become brothers-in-law. On July 11, 1959, Tony and Lena were married and began their new life together in Modesto. He sold his new car so they could buy a washer and dryer, which was symbolic of the myriad ways he unselfishly put the wellbeing of others first his entire life. Tony and Lena were blessed with a loving 60-year marriage until Lena’s passing in December 2019.
Tony supported his family as an accountant for NI Industries at the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, a career that would last for 47 years until his retirement. He began as a Property Clerk and with loyal service and continuing education, he worked his way up to Controller. He was relocated to Southern California in 1965, returning to Modesto in 1974. Tony was well-respected by peers as a kind, soft-spoken and honest gentleman of impeccable integrity. Time off from work was always spent with family, either visiting relatives on holidays or outings with his wife and children. Family camping trips were his favorite activity. Tony was an avid fan of the Giants and the 49ers. The only thing better than watching a Giants game on TV was being at Candlestick Park. Another favorite retirement pastime was weekly card games with Richard and Carmen along with Frank and Rita Benenati, the older sister of Carmen and Lena. Tony and Lena were active parishioners at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church in Riverbank and Tony was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Like so many other people in the world today, Tony contracted Covid-19 and was in the hospital for 16 days before passing away from the coronavirus and resultant pneumonia infections. Tony is survived by six of the seven Mendes children and their families: son Anthony Mendes, daughter-in-law Renee Mendes, grandchildren Cynthia and Chris Mendes; daughter Maria Bult, son-in-law Matt Bult, grandchildren Alex and Nicolas Bult; daughter Josephine Lucas, son-in-law Tom Lucas, grandchildren Michelle Tolliver (Jeremy) and Nicole Brooke (Stephen), great-grandchildren Sierra Tolliver, Nolen Brooke, Jolena Brooke, Lazarus Brooke; son Robert Mendes, daughter-in-law Deborah Mendes, grandchildren Skylar and Karyss Mendes; daughter-in-law Jennifer Mendes and grandchild Veronica Mendes; son Joseph Mendes, daughter-in-law Melanie Mendes, grandchildren Allison, Natalie, and Ethan Mendes; daughter Anne Madden and son-in-law John Madden. He was preceded in death by his wife Lena and their son, Paul Mendes.
A visitation will be held at Franklin & Downs McHenry Chapel on Tuesday, January 26 from 3-5 pm. Recitation of the Rosary and a funeral Mass will be held at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church on Wednesday, January 27. Due to social distancing requirements, attendance at the Rosary and funeral Mass is limited to Tony’s children, their spouses and his grandchildren. Burial will follow at St. Stanislaus Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at stjude.org or the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.
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