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Champion of Easton's Lebanese community and Notre Dame High School dies at 77

Deacon Anthony Koury
Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church
Anthony Koury, of Easton, was ordained a deacon in 1982 and was a longtime member of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church.

EASTON, Pa. — Anthony Koury, a lifelong Easton resident whose passion for Notre Dame High School was only exceeded by his love for his church, died Wednesday.

Koury, an ordained deacon at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, fought a five-year battle with cancer, according to his nephew, Northampton County Judge Michael Koury.

He died at his son's home in Easton surrounded by family, his nephew said. He was 77.

"He lived his life not concerned with material things of this world," Michael Koury said. "Those things never concerned him. He was always focused on the afterlife. He just wanted to be a kind, loving person who did good deeds for others — and he did them not expecting anything in return.

"He touched people’s lives in so many different ways."

Church roots run deep

Our Lady of Lebanon was first to announce his passing Wednesday night, on social media.

Michael Koury said his uncle's deep faith was rooted in family — Anthony Koury's great-grandfather and great-uncle were priests in the Maronite Catholic church in Lebanon.

A lifelong Our Lady of Lebanon member and volunteer who started as an altar boy, Anthony Koury was ordained a deacon of the church in July 1982.

“It is with great regret to inform you of the passing of our beloved Deacon Anthony Koury," church leaders said on social media. "May the Lord our God Jesus Christ accept the soul of his faithful servant in the kingdom of heaven. Amen."

Koury lived in Easton and was active in numerous community activities. He was born on April 1, 1947, in Easton, to the late Frank and Catherine Koury.

Decades at Notre Dame

For more than 40 years, Koury was a teacher, coach and athletic director at Notre Dame High School in Bethlehem Township.

He was in the first graduating class of Notre Dame after it moved from Easton to Bethlehem Township in the 1960s, and also was in the first graduating class of Allentown College of St. Frances de Sales, Michael Koury said.

“He was a wonderful person who did a lot for our community and his community; not just for the Lebanese, but the entire city.”
Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr.

Even after his retirement in 2012, Anthony Koury remained a presence at the school and its sporting events.

“Walk in the building at any time and everyone knows who he is,” Principal Jaclyn Friel said. “We were really blessed to have him here. He had a huge impact with athletics and also taught theology classes. He touched so many lives.”

Surviving are his wife Cheffie, married nearly 54 years; a son, Anthony Jr. of Easton; a daughter, Frances Marcus, of Denver, Colorado; and two grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements

A viewing will be held Sunday afternoon at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 55 S. Fourth St. The funeral Mass is set for 1 p.m. Monday at the church.

At the church, he served as a deacon, an altar server, cantor, lector, member of the parish council, director of religious education, bingo worker, and a member of various committees.

“Deacon Anthony’s life has been one of total service to his family, church, community, and Our Lady of Lebanon where he has helped shape the lives and futures of thousands of people,” says Koury’s profile on the church website.

His connections ran in church, community, athletics and political circles.

“He was a wonderful person who did a lot for our community and his community; not just for the Lebanese, but the entire city,” Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said. “He will be deeply missed.”

Online tributes

The church’s social media pages were filled with hundreds of reactions and comments commemorating the deacon’s life and service.

”RIP, TK... You have always been a great soul, and will be missed by the community. Thank you for the nicknames you gave some of us, including me, during my enrollment at Notre Dame, when you were the Athletic Director... "Mad Dog Bruno", Class of '96, will never forget you! Condolences, love, and prayers to the Koury family and friends,” a message from Tom Bruno states.

“A man with a pure heart, loving soul, and A devout man of God. May he rest in the arms of our Lord. My prayers are with you all,” a message from Melissa Rizk reads.

“May he rest in eternal peace. Anthony will be greatly missed by not only my family but our whole community. He was a steady presence for us for our whole lives. Allah yerhamo,” another message from Noelle Shiner Richardson said.

Posted the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn: “It is with great regret to inform you of the passing of Deacon Anthony Koury from Our Lady of Lebanon Church – Easton. May he rest in peace!”

Final wishes

Michael Koury said one of his uncle's dying wishes was to be the one who delivered First Communion to his grandchildren. He was able to do that about a month ago.

Despite his declining health, Anthony Koury also made it a point to attend Christmas Eve services at Our Lady of Lebanon just a few months ago, according to his nephew.

"It was the last time he was able to attend Mass at our church," Michael Koury said. "He wanted to be there. He wanted to speak to people. I think he knew it was the last time he would see everyone."

Bishop Alfred Schlert of the Diocese of Allentown is expected to be a celebrant of Koury's funeral Mass, along with Bishop Gregory Mansour, eparch of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn.

Schlert, who grew up in the Easton area, was a student of Koury's at Notre Dame High School.

"The life and ministry of Deacon Anthony Koury deeply touched my own life and ministry as a priest," Schlert said in a statement released by the diocese.

"He was my high school teacher, a colleague when I taught on the faculty at Notre Dame High School, a brother in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and in a special way, he was a lifelong friend.

"He always sought the good of others, possessing a generous heart that is rarely seen, and never counted the cost of his comfort in being of service to his faith, family, and to his community."