Anton (Tony) Jambor, age 84, died unexpectedly, Monday February 15, 2016 at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 A.M. Monday, February 22nd at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Isanti. A visitation will be held from 2:00 -6:00 P.M. (With a Prayer Service about 5:30 P.M.) Sunday, February 21st at Strike Funeral Home – ISANTI chapel and one hour prior to the service Monday at the church.
Tony (Anton) Jambor, 84, beloved father, grandfather, and friend passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 15 surrounded by family. Preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Dolores; his son, Greg; his parents; 5 brothers and 3 sisters. Survived by his children: Sue Jambor, Robert (Bernadette) Jambor, and Karen (Doug) Bailey; grandchildren, Alina, David and Jack; brother, Jack; and many family and friends.
Tony was one of nine children in a Polish family and was raised on a farm in Browerville, MN. There, behind the family barn, Tony and his brothers would often visit a small creek to spear fish. That sparked his lifelong love for the outdoors, and anything to do with hunting and fishing.
Tony’s love of music started in the 7th grade. After hearing his uncle play the accordion, Tony was hooked. He raised a bull calf and later sold it to buy his first accordion for $15. He learned to play by listening to music on the radio. Tony’s first playing job was at a Farm Bureau meeting. His payment – a free hot dog. From then on, Tony brought his accordion everywhere, including his time in the Navy during the Korean War aboard the U.S.S. Winston, and on the many trips he took with his wife, Dolores, whom he met at a dance and married in 1954.
Polka music was Tony’s life! While working as a tool and die maker, Tony started his band, The Polka Jamboree. With his band, he played many ballrooms and night clubs throughout Minnesota, and recorded five albums. The Polka Jamboree was a big hit and with his band, Tony launched a television show that aired on WTCN Channel 11 from 1964 – 1968. The show was a success and was only surpassed in Upper Midwest ratings by Lassie.
Tony and Dolores went on to buy the Coliseum Ballroom and later the Bel Rae Ballroom. The ballroom was a family affair, with all three kids working in various roles, Dolores working the till and Tony taking tickets. Tony knew how to throw a party and have fun, and always made sure those around him were having fun, too. Throughout the years, many happy memories were made by family and friends at the Bel Rae. In 2015, Tony was recognized for his many contributions to and years in the music industry when he was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.
After nearly 30 years in the ballroom business, Tony and Dolores sold the Bel Rae Ballroom and retired to a hobby farm in Bethel, MN where they raised cattle during the summer. But retirement didn’t stop Tony from continuing to entertain people. Up until his death, he was playing his accordion at VFWs, senior centers, local supper clubs and dance halls. As Tony once said, “I like to be with people. Dancing people are fun people to be around.”
Tony was an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the deer hunting shack with his son, son-in-law, grandsons, and friends. And, he probably had one of the nicer deer stands in Orr, MN, complete with swivel stool, heater and camping stove. He also enjoyed organizing summer fishing junkets with friends to Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada.
Tony was active in several organizations, including the Polish American Club, the Minnesota Ballroom Operators Association (president), the National Ballroom Operators Association (president), Upper Midwest Golden Gloves (director), and was a proud member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus in the Catholic Church.
Dad will always be remembered for his generous soul, kind heart, wonderful sense of humor and great stories. Rest in peace, Papa Tony. We will miss you.