When Tony Hintze worked at Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (HOME), located on 5114 W. Roosevelt Rd, for the final time on Aug. 30, it was an understated affair symbolic of the personality of the man himself.
Over candles and brownies, about 10 employees of the non-profit, home rehab organization gathered to salute Hintze’s nearly 20 years of service to West Side seniors. HOME helps low-income elderly residents with affording home repairs and furnishings.
“It was a wonderful send-off,” said the 65-year-old, former case worker. “I felt I was ready to leave and pursue other goals. However, I have no immediate plans following retirement.”
Fellow co-worker Cathy Klein organized the party and has known Hintze for three years while working as the organization’s office manager.
“Tony actually officially retired in July, but he stayed another month as a volunteer to train the new case worker, Erica Wade, who was taking his place,” she said. “[That] shows the level of commitment he has had for this organization.”
Although Hintze worked with HOME for almost 20 years, he previously spent two decades with parent organization Little Brothers, an affiliate of HOME, which also provided assistance to seniors. Born one of four children in Milwaukee, he moved to Chicago to work for Little Brothers after three years at the University of Wisconsin.
“I had a desire to work with seniors and I saw this as an ideal opportunity,” Hintze said. “We would provide help for seniors in terms of moving, obtaining furnishings for their homes and whatever they needed. It was very fulfilling work.”
Considered soft-spoken and modest by his co-workers, Hintze, single and with no children, has a political side. He’s been an avid activist, particularly in his opposition the last 40 years to United States-involved wars. Hintze spent 18 months in jail in the late 1960s for refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam War.
“I have not been in support of any wars that we have been involved with in my lifetime,” he said. “I think that there is a right and wrong time to send our young men and women into battle. We have been on the bad end each of the last few times, in particular with our occupation in Vietnam, which I felt was a completely unjust war.
“It was not a pleasant experience to be incarcerated,” he added, “but I felt as though my protest was justified.”
Hintze still attends political rallies regularly and says his continued protest of the current U.S. occupation in Iraq will be on his agenda during his retirement.
“I have my picket sighs all ready,” he jokes. “I’m just waiting to know where it will be.”
Klein said he brought that same commitment to activism to his job at HOME, commuting each day from his residence on the North Side to work with clients on the West Side.
“He is not one for applause, but he was as confident about commuting to even the roughest parts of the West Side without a second thought. That’s what made him special.”
Hintze said he took the position with HOME because it allowed him to provide more services to his clients, but it really didn’t feel like work to him-he just enjoyed helping them so much. In his retirement, Hintze plans to visit his two living sisters in Wisconsin.
“I’m going to miss it, no doubt,” he said of his work. “But I know God has other plans for me now.”