Anthony A. “Tony” Vollbrecht, 69, of Fergus Falls, MN died Thursday, February 4, 2016, while visiting friends in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Tony was born February 28, 1946 in Fergus Falls, MN. He attended elementary school in the rural school system of Otter Tail County and graduated from Fergus Falls Senior High School in 1964. After obtaining an Associate Bachelor’s Degree from the Fergus Falls Junior College, Tony joined the Peace Corps and served for two years in the Hyderabad Province in central India. When he returned from the Peace Corps, he completed his college studies at Moorhead State University and worked for the North Dakota State School for the Deaf. Following that, he was hired as a Foreign Service Officer by the U.S. Department of State Agency for International Development (USAID).
In his 30-year career with the Department of State, Tony was stationed in posts all over the world, beginning with Vietnam. He was there during the fall of Saigon in 1975 and was personally involved in the airlift of orphans from Vietnam to the United States. Many additional foreign postings followed, including Khartoum in the Sudan in northern Africa and in Upper Volta (now known as Burkina Faso) in west Africa, as well as multiple tours in several nations in Central America and in Washington, D.C.
Upon retirement from the Foreign Service, Tony took up residence in the highlands of Honduras, Central America, where he hoped to live for the remainder of his life. Civil unrest in that country and Tony’s health issues caused him to relocate to the Vollbrecht family farmstead north of Fergus Falls in 2010.
Tony never lost his love for travel and continued to make many trips each year to visit friends and family.
In addition to his passion for travel, he often referred to himself as a “tree hugger” and undertook several reforestation projects. He was directly responsible for the planting of more than 50,000 trees in various nations.
An avid pet lover his entire life, Tony was never without animal companionship and even went so far as to transport his beloved animals with him oversees on most of his foreign postings. While living in Central America, in addition to dogs and cats, he had monkeys, macaws, and parrots.
Tony was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Ella (Nibbe) Vollbrecht, his grandparents Emil and Minnie (Neuman) Vollbrecht and Carl and Adelia (Kuehl) Nibbe, his brother-in-law and sister Roger and Mary (Vollbrecht) Smith and their children, his brother Richard Vollbrecht, and his brother-in-law Milo Sheldon.
He is survived by his dearest friend of long standing Carlos Caal Cucul of Guatemala City; his sister Kathryn (Vollbrecht) Sheldon of Yankton, SD; his brother Ralph Jr. (“Paul”) of rural Fergus Falls; his sister Jane of Cleveland, GA; his sister-in-law Esther Vollbrecht of Moorhead, MN; his aunt Ida Mae Fabian of Bloomington, MN; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews; his dogs, cats, and poultry companions and friends and associates all over the world.
Per Tony’s request, no immediate memorial service is planned. A brief ceremony at the time his ashes are placed in a memorial bench on the Vollbrecht homestead in rural Fergus Falls may be held at a later date. Those wishing to honor his memory are encouraged to plant a tree, adopt a homeless pet, or make a donation to a charitable organization which supports conservation of Mother Earth or better lives for animals.
He asked that all who knew him remember him as a person who loved life and who did not fear death.