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November 03, 2017

Republican power broker, CEO found dead in Delaware River

Philly native remembered as colossus of Pennsylvania politics

Investigation Politics
Fred Anton Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association/

Fred Anton, 83, was the longtime head of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association and an influential figure in Harrisburg politics.

A CEO and Pennsylvania power broker who was long an influential figure in Harrisburg politics was found dead in the Delaware River this week.

Fred Anton, 83, was found Thursday, one day after he was last seen leaving his residence on North Columbus Boulevard and reported missing, according to multiple reports.

He had suffered from undisclosed medical issues and depression, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Medical Examiner's Office is investigating how he died.

The Republican was the longtime president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, a statewide trade organization with significant lobbying power in Harrisburg during his tenure.

The Philadelphia native was also a delegate to several Republican National Conventions and served as chairman of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission of Pennsylvania.

“At his peak, he could kill a bill if he wanted to, or he could make a bill if he wanted to,” former Gov. Ed Rendell told The Inquirer.

Anton graduated from Haverford High School, earned his law degree from the Villanova School of Law and was a Marine Corps veteran.

Republican Mike Turzai, speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said in a statement that Anton had been "integral to the biggest political discussions of the past several decades."

"When Fred entered a room, everyone’s attention turned to him," Turzai said. "It is no coincidence that many of Pennsylvania’s governors, U.S. senators, congressmen, and state legislative leaders have considered Fred a close friend and advisor," Turzai said. "He was gracious to everyone who came to know him."

Other lawmakers also expressed their grief and condolences.

The Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association said Thursday that, per Anton's instructions, David N. Taylor has replaced Anton as its leader, and that board member Lowman S. Henry will take over as board chairman.

"All of us who had the privilege of knowing him and working for him will treasure the memories of our time with him, with gratitude for having had him as our leader, patron, mentor, and friend,” Taylor said in a statement.

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called Anton an icon in Pennsylvania's conservative movement.

"He was a passionate advocate for the city of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and for the country he loved," Toomey said in a statement.