Richard Anter II was Fairview Park's youngest mayor when elected at the age of 27.
Newspaper accounts during his tenure, from 1980 to 1983, also described him as not only Cuyahoga County's youngest mayor, but the youngest mayor of any chartered city in the country.
Anter died June 20 at age 67 of an apparent heart attack while traveling in Jordan with Camille, his wife of 48 years. He had battled multiple myeloma for eight years, said his sister, Mary Sue Tanis, the founder of Youth Challenge, the Westlake-based organization that offers recreational opportunities to children with physical disabilities.
Anter, who had always wanted to visit the Holy Land, died just a couple of days into his trip to the Middle East, Tanis said. The timing of his death reminded her of the story of Moses, who got to see the Promised Land from afar but never completed the journey.
In November 1979, Anter upset incumbent Joseph Gaul by pledging to serve as the suburb's first full-time mayor, arguing that operations would run more smoothly than with a part-time executive. Anter, who had worked at his family's candy and tobacco wholesale business, also promised more services and support for senior citizens.
"I want the people of Fairview to feel 'up' — good about their city," Anter said after carrying four of the suburb's five wards.
"I feel good about our city and I want the city to feel good about itself," Anter said at his inauguration ceremony, held in the Fairview High School auditorium. "Fairview Park is a great place in which to grow up."
Terry Borecky, who served as a City Hall secretary during part of Anter's tenure, said he brought fairness and a willingness to listen to the mayor's office.
"He enjoyed the job immensely," she said.
According to Janet R. Bednarek's 2016 book "Airports, Cities, and the Jet Age: US Airports Since 1945," Anter led the Westshore suburbs' fight against Cleveland's proposed expansion of runways at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which many residents feared would lead to an unacceptable increase in jet noise. Fairview Park's extended legal battle with Cleveland ended in 1992 with an agreement by the two to split the contested, uninhabited Riveredge Township.
In the fall of 1980, Anter married Camille Arrieh, whom he met at a local convention of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian Lebanese Clubs, a group he was active with. The first of their three children was born while he was mayor.
In 1982, the Republican made an unsuccessful run for Congress against Democrat Ed Feighan, a Cuyahoga County commissioner and former state representative. At one point in the contentious race, Anter held a news conference on the sidewalk outside Feighan's Cleveland residence to highlight that his opponent had not yet moved into the suburban district he was seeking to represent. Feighan called the act an invasion of his privacy.
In a surprise move, Anter declined to seek re-election in 1983, a move that The Plain Dealer reported left his fellow Fairview Park Republicans "a little miffed." "My family comes first and I want to be with them," he explained.
Although Anter gave the mayor's job his full-time attention, the job was still part time, according to the city charter, and the salary was set at $16,500. West Life reporter Judy Warnsman wrote that the city's failure to make the job full time played a major role in Anter's decision to return to the private sector. Tanis recalled that her brother felt he needed a better-paying job after becoming a father.
Anter supported fellow Republican Robert Nahigian, a councilman and dentist. But former mayor Gaul reclaimed the office in a three-person race that also included write-in candidate Marvin Schatz.
In the late 1980s, Anter worked as director of downtown development for the Greater Cleveland Growth Association and later served on the boards of several Cleveland organizations, including the Historic Warehouse District and the Public Square Endowment.
After moving to Rocky River, Anter ran unsuccessfully in the 2005 Republican primary against incumbent Bill Knoble for mayor of that suburb. But he had not been active in politics in recent years, his sister said.
For the past 26 years he worked as a business consultant.
His great love, according to his sister, was not politics but coaching youth basketball. From 1974 through 2018, he coached CYO sports at St. Angela Elementary School, which he attended. He also served on the Sports Commission and as athletic director at the Catholic parish.
"He was interested in youth sports and basketball and in the development of young people," Tanis said.
In 2013, St. Angela Parish’s high school boys' team won the CYO state basketball championship under Anter's leadership. For the past year, he had coached CYO basketball at St. Peter Church in North Ridgeville. Mike DiLoreto, St. Peter’s sixth-grade boys basketball coach and a player under Anter at St. Angela, invited his former coach to assist him.
"Everywhere we went, someone knew him," DiLoreto said. "He taught me how important it is for a coach to be a mentor to these kids before a coach."
Reaching a height of nearly 6 feet, 6 inches tall his senior year of high school, Anter helped his St. Ignatius High School basketball team win the city championship in 1970, his sister said. Classmate and friend Kevin Gladstone recalled Anter as an outgoing and generous teammate.
"He was passionate and he played with such joy," Gladstone said.
Anter played freshman basketball at Marquette University, his sister said, but after an illness he transferred to John Carroll University, from where he graduated in 1974.
Anter's funeral liturgy took place Monday at St. Elias Byzantine Catholic Church in Brooklyn, where his wife works and his oldest son, Richard, sings in the choir. The family has requested that donations in his memory be made to Youth Challenge, 800 Sharon Drive, Westlake. Donations can be made at the organization’s website, youthchallengesports.com.
Kevin Kelley is a freelance writer in North Olmsted.