More than a year later, family of missing Korean War veteran keeps searching

Published: Jan. 10, 2021 at 5:11 PM CST
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SAWYER CO., Wis. (WEAU) -Korean War veteran Norbert Anthony Dantzman, also called Tony, was born and raised in Sawyer County.

He grew up on a farm near Winter that his parents bought in 1919. The weekend he disappeared, he was back in Wisconsin for a 100 year family reunion.

Tony Dantzman has dementia.

The last known images of the 90-year-old are of him walking by security cameras at the Northern Lights Motel.

From there, where he went is a mystery. His family believes he must have been picked up by someone.

“He definitely got a ride,” said Kendal Smith, Tony Dantzman’s son-in-law. “I’m almost positive of that because the dogs couldn’t find any sign past that point. And with all the family reunions going on that weekend, we had a lot of relatives there, and we did grid patterns--everything within a mile pretty much-- and we covered every inch of that. It wasn’t like he walked over, fell in a ditch and died. He got in the car with somebody.”

Dantzman’s granddaughter Kasey Downey lives in California says the pandemic forced the on the ground volunteer search efforts to find Tony strictly online.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to keep a good recruitment of volunteers and family to do the physical distribution of fliers which we had started before the pandemic” Downey said. “We had volunteers across multiple states, complete strangers, to volunteer to help pass out fliers and led to several tips in the first few months.”

Downey said Dantzman could be completely unaware that he is lost or missing.

They’ve had several promising leads. The most recent came from an antique shop owner in Prairie Du Chien who told the family she spoke with Tony Dantzman face-to-face the weekend he was reported missing.

“It was so eerie,” Downey said. “This sounds just like Grandpa Tony, and the detectives investigated. They didn’t get too far because it was a rural area--no surveillance cameras to really confirm. But what we received from that one is that at that point is: ‘I’m heading out west to my family trying to get out west. Oh, I love antique shops.’ And she gave him pamphlets of antique shops all along the route going from Wisconsin west, so if we could do boots on the ground that’s where we would search once we can.”

Dantzman’s family believes they will find an answer to what happened to their dad and grandpa.

“I’m confident that he’s still out there wandering around,” Smith said. “I’m thinking he may have found a girlfriend and moved in with her. She might have dementia too. There’s a lot of people out there with dementia living alone still. They found a coupling or something... I’m hoping that he’s still out there.”

On this two year anniversary of the safe return of Jayme Closs to her family, Kasey Downey said the Closs family has been a source of inspiration and hope.

“The Closs family has reached out to us,” Downey said. “My sister is actually close to one of their relatives. Her being able to talk with someone with the same experience and relay her concerns... the tips she gave her back to our mom and our dad and our extended family, just really don’t give up, keep the faith and seeing how the community has come together to help us. We’re not the type of family to give up anyway, but it’s just never-ending. We’re going to work this out until the very end.”

We spoke with the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department this week. They said Tony Dantzman is still considered missing.

His family is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Tony.

If you have information, contact the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department at 715-634-5213.

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