His bright-colored socks and the puddin’ story about the time he and his sister got up in the middle of the night because they were hungry would make you laugh.
His abilities in track and field, show choir and building his own computer would make you appreciate his varied talents.
His decision to leave college after a semester to join the Indiana Army National Guard and the desire he had to become a firefighter like his father would make you proud.
His personality and selfless nature would make you want to be around him.
While Anthony Richko III of Austin was only 20 years old when he died in an automobile accident Feb. 18, he had made quite an impact during his short life. That provides comfort to his family in this difficult time.
“As tragic as this experience has been and as devastating to our family this experience was, to see how many lives he touched and to see how many people’s lives that he had come into contact with, that he just inspired people to be better, I heard that a lot,” his father, Anthony Richko Jr. of Chicago, Illinois, said Thursday, a day after the funeral service at Christensen Family Funeral Home in Seymour.
“I heard a lot of people say, ‘He made me into a better person. I was a better person for knowing him,’” he said. “It was heartwarming. It was very comforting to know that he had that effect on so many people.“
Anthony III was on his way to see his father and other family members in Chicago when he was involved in a three-vehicle wreck on Interstate 65 near the 191 mile marker in White County. Police said traffic was stopped due to another accident when Anthony’s car failed to slow down and sideswiped a vehicle before running into the back of a semitrailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Besides his father, Anthony is survived by his mother, Jennifer Davis of Crothersville, three brothers and a sister in Chicago and two brothers in Crothersville.
Fellow members of his National Guard unit and a longtime friend served as pallbearers at his funeral, and the Seymour Fire Department had a ladder truck with a large American flag flying over the funeral procession.
Another firetruck escorted the procession out of town, and then Chief Brad Lucas continued to lead the long line of vehicles to New Providence Cemetery in Austin, where Anthony was laid to rest and received full military honors.
“One of the highest honors of my funeral service career is when I am afforded the opportunity to serve the family of a hero,” said Daniel Christensen, co-owner of the funeral home.
“I reached out to Chief Lucas to let him know that his dad was a Chicago firefighter. I was extremely proud of our local fire department in the way they expressed their honor,” he said. “It was a testament to the way first responders stick together even if they are from a different state. I was overwhelmed when I saw our fire department respond with a hook and ladder truck tribute with a flag draped as we exited the funeral home for procession to the cemetery.”
At the cemetery, there was a 21-gun salute, the playing of “Taps,” a bagpiper and words from Kenny Roberson, pastor of Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Seymour, where Anthony was a member.
National Guardsmen folded the American flag that draped his casket and presented it to his mother, and shell casings from the gun salute and a commendation medal were given to his father.
“It was a beautiful display of the type of person that he was,” Anthony Jr. said.
Anthony III was born March 29, 2001, and lived in Fox Lake, Illinois, until he was about 6 and moved to Indiana. He went on to graduate from Austin High School in 2020. He was a local track and field star and received a scholarship for his athletic abilities.
He completed a semester at Manchester University with a major in general studies and participated in the indoor track and field season before pursuing his desire to serve his country.
Anthony Jr. said a recruiter came to Austin and spoke at the school, and his son was so intrigued by it that he signed up for the JROTC program. He remained involved with that until graduating from high school, and then he joined the Indiana Army National Guard and completed training at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Fortunately, while he was in college, he was allowed to continue National Guard training.
“They were very accommodating to the fact they knew he had to go to training, and they were very accommodating to his passion to be part of the military,” his father said.
Anthony III also had told his father about his desire to become a firefighter. Anthony Jr. has served with the Chicago Fire Department for 13 years.
“He was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life,” his father said. “He had a lot of goals. He had a lot of dreams, a lot of aspirations. He wanted to do a lot of different things, and I told him that ‘If you become a fireman, not only would I be proud of you, but you would be able to open up doors to so many different opportunities because your schedule allows that.’”
Anthony Jr. has his own contracting business, and his son helped him one summer and quickly learned how to build a deck.
“I had been telling him for years, I said, ‘Listen, I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of the man you’re becoming. I’m so proud of everything you have accomplished in your life, and I guarantee you as you get older, great things are going to follow you. I have no doubt in my mind that great things are going to follow you, and you should be very proud of that,’” Anthony Jr. said.
While he lived a short life, it was a fulfilling life, his father said.
“I’m proud of all of my children, and he set the bar for everybody. Even the kids who were a little older than him, he would set the bar for them, and he would set the bar for my kids, and my kids looked up to him and they loved him,” he said. “I think that with this devastating loss to our family that we can find some solace in the fact that not only are he and our guardian angels watching over us, but he still has that bar set pretty high.”
Two brothers and a sister all do track and field, inspired by Anthony. Other siblings play football or baseball, and Anthony always supported and helped them as much as he could.
“He loved that. He loved the idea of that,” his father said. “He truly was a very selfless individual who would literally give you anything you needed. He was there whenever you needed him.”
One of his brothers, Dominic Richko, spoke during the funeral service and said Anthony was the main reason he started track, and he also plays football.
“He was a big inspiration,” Dominic said of his older brother. “He wouldn’t stop supporting anybody in the family. He loved all of us and cared for us.”
From spending summers together working for their dad to attending Anthony’s graduation, Dominic said he couldn’t have been more proud to call him his older brother.
“Anthony was a bright, funny, caring and loving kid who was always without a doubt putting others before himself,” Dominic said.
Speaking of bright, Dominic also pointed out Anthony’s colorful socks, noting he never saw him wear “normal” socks. At graduation, he wore neon blue socks with his checkered Vans.
“There’s not one person that could say that they didn’t smile every time they saw him,” Dominic said. “We love him, and we’ll always remember him.”
His sister, Gabriella Richko, spoke after Dominic. She shared the puddin’ story, saying Anthony tripped over a dog while carrying the bowl of pudding to the refrigerator and he scooped it off of the floor thinking they could still eat it. Just like Anthony made people laugh, that story had the same effect during the funeral service.
At the visitation and funeral, Anthony’s mother and others wore anime socks, paying tribute to two of his loves: Anime and crazy, wild socks.
“Even though he was 20 years old, he was still a kid, and he loved watching anime and he loved collecting anime cards,” Anthony Jr. said. “He was big in that kind of stuff, and that was awesome to see everybody just show up those last two days with crazy anime socks. That’s what he loved. He was buried in anime socks and his crazy, wild pants.”
Anthony’s impact has been evident in the stories shared since his death, and he will continue to inspire people. His father said his children will definitely fulfill everything they set out to do just like Anthony did, and track athletes at Austin High School will benefit from donations made during the visitation and funeral.
“He was a good boy. He really was. He was very loved by a lot of people, and he was very inspirational to a lot of people,” Anthony Jr. said. “He touched so many people in their hearts, and it was so rewarding to see that. It was very comforting to hear the stories about him and to hear the impacts that he made on certain people’s lives and how he changed the way people think.”