H. Cushman “Gus” Anthony did not die in his Scouting uniform at the age of 96, but he almost did. It would not have seemed at all out of place for this legendary leader who dutifully rose through the ranks of the Narragansett Council. “He lived and breathed Camp Yawgoog and the Scouts,” said his daughter Gwen Mazanetz, on a phone call from her home in Wisconsin. Anthony was about to go to Camp Yawgoog for an annual reunion — likely his last — when she went to get him dressed for the event and found him unresponsive. It was August 2, 2000.
Anthony was one of the first Scouts to come to camp, which opened in 1916; he joining Scouts under Scoutmaster J. Harold “Chief” Williams. In 1921, Anthony became a staff member himself, was director from 1951 to 1968, and created the Yawgoog Alumni Association in 1981.
Calling her father “probably the most honest person I ever knew,” in addition to Scouting, he was involved in 23 other volunteer organizations in some capacity, Mazanetz said. These other efforts included his alma mater — Brown University — Providence Art Club and the Governor’s Council on Aging.
“Mother [the late Martha Anthony] kept in the background, but she was his rock and support and terribly proud of him,” said Mazanetz.
Anthony’s steadfast community involvement earned him widespread recognition: an honorary doctorate from the University of Scouting Sciences, a place in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, the Brown Bear Award from Brown University, and a Special Citizen Award from the city of Providence, to name a few.
“He was one of the busiest people,” Mazanetz said. “And he wasn’t an in-name only person. If he was on a committee, he attended, and always had a good way of doing things,” she said.
And his way of doing things was organized, Dave Nichols wrote at the time of Anthony’s death: “Gus had a system for everything … he had a chapter in each issue of Yawgoog’s Alumni publication where excerpts from letters and notes he received from old Scouts and Scouters were published and Gus would pen in his personal comments to them.”
But his steadfast efficiency didn’t mean his personality didn’t shine through. Narragansett Council Secretary Judy Ferrante called Anthony the most charming man she has ever known. “He could get a dime’s worth of candy for a penny. Actually, he could get a dime’s worth of candy for free.”
Ferrante said she and Anthony, a master storyteller, would talk for hours. “I miss Gus’s stories, I miss Gus’s humor and most of all I miss Gus, my friend.”
Though Anthony had many different obligations with other groups and opportunities to start his own council, Mazanetz said his deep devotion to Yawgoog was unshakeable.
As Nichols wrote, “What Gus has done for Scouting and for Yawgoog is legend.”