A farmer known countywide for his community spirit died Friday while working the fields of his family's farm in Hobart.
Anthony Wirtz, 72, who lived in Lake Station, was pronounced dead by the Lake County coroner's office after its investigative team was dispatched to the 5000 block of 70th Avenue in Hobart at 2:27 p.m., according to the coroner's office.
Wirtz apparently fell off a tractor while working, but the exact manner of his death is still under investigation, said Hobart police Detective Jeremy Ogden. The circumstances of his death were not suspicious, Ogden said.
Wirtz was a tireless volunteer who was well-known in Hobart and throughout the region, particularly for his cooking, Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said. Dishes such as Tony's famous chops were a favorite wherever he cooked them, the mayor said.
At Hobart's Lake Fest, Wirtz prepared soups. He played Santa Claus for children at Fraternal Order of Police events. And he was a lifelong member of 4-H, helping out at the Lake County Fair every year.
"He would do anything for anybody," Snedecor said. "And all he asked in return was a thank you."
Longtime friend Tom Ehrhardt said when Wirtz wasn't cooking, he was lending out his cooking equipment to others.
"Any event in the community you saw Tony there, either cooking or supporting someone else with what they were doing," Ehrhardt said.
Wirtz was a longtime maintenance worker with the School City of Hobart as well as a farmer. Funeral arrangements are pending.