Year in Review – Siblings’ deaths rocked town

Editor's note: This is the second of a five-part series on the top stories in the PNT coverage area in 2012. The death of the Anthony brothers of Elida is No. 4 on the PNT's list.

It didn't even happen in Roosevelt County, but when one truck was hit by a larger truck in Chaves County the tragic consequences instantly stretched north.

Fred Anthony sits in a 1926 school bus that he rebuilt from scratch. His family said the school bus was one of his great joys.

Around 3:45 p.m. Aug. 9, brothers Fred, 72, and Ronald Anthony, 76, of Elida were struck while driving back home. The driver of the semi truck that hit them, 50-year-old David Wright, was from Portales. The collision caused a nine-hour closure of U.S. 70 that day, but the impact will be felt well beyond that temporal window.

The Anthony brothers were on their way back from collecting sand at the Pecos River to help build a playground at the First United Methodist Church in Elida.

"That's what they did," said Mark Anthony, Fred's eldest son.

According to the 2010 census, Elida had a population of 197 people. More than 300 were estimated to attend the funeral for the Anthony brothers.

"They both were just full of love," said Glenda Anthony, Ronald's wife.

The Anthony family stretches far back in the history of the eastern New Mexico town. The generation before Ronald and Fred's were among those who homesteaded in the area.

After the accident claimed the lives of the pair, family members recalled how the brothers' interest in classic vehicles manifested itself, for the town of Portales, in homecoming parades for Eastern New Mexico University — as well as at other community events and car shows.

The vehicles they loved weren't just for show, however ,as the truck they were driving that fateful August day was a 1965 Chevy, which they were using to transport the would-be playground sand.

Despite the age of the Anthony brothers, the event that claimed both lives in an instant was certainly a shock.

"There was this assumption that if one went, the other would take care of us," said Cherry Eckland, Ronald Anthony's daughter, in a Portales News-Tribune interview.

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