Obituary: California state psychiatric technician union chief headed association more than 13 years

01/06/2014 11:29 AM

01/13/2014 11:42 AM

Tony Myers, a California psychiatric technician who rose through the ranks to lead his profession’s state labor union for more than a dozen years, died on New Year’s Day following a brief illness.

California Association of Psychiatric Technicians announced that Mr. Myers, 53, succumbed to cancer. Union Vice President Juan Nolasco has taken over the office that Mr. Myers had held since 2000.

Friends and loved ones had “hoped for a miracle,” Nolasco said in an interview. “Now there are really big shoes to fill.”

Mr. Myers was reelected to the presidency six times. He was known for his a steady leadership and level head in a crisis.

Events over the years provided ample opportunity for Mr. Myers to display those qualities. Budget cuts and political maneuvering put state employees’ pay and pension benefits squarely in the cross hairs for much of the second half of Mr. Myers’ administration. Unlike some union leaders, he avoided public confrontations with governors and administrative officials, preferring to talk over differences out of view. On more than one occasion, he told CAPT’s 6,000 members that they would have to make sacrifices.

“Tony was a realist. He understood the state was going through some tough times,” Nolasco said. “He always tried to work things out. He was a problem solver.”

Expanding the profession into departments outside the state’s mental health system and workplace safety issues were priorities for Mr. Myers. The 2010 murder of Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross deeply affected him.

“That was huge,” Nolasco said, and motivated Mr. Myers to redouble his focus on safety concerns in the final years of his life.

To the very end, Mr. Myers kept his hand in union affairs. His final conversation, CAPT spokeswoman Brady Oppenheim said, was discussing labor issues with consultant Ken Murch.

Anthony Myers was born in Redwood City, one of eight siblings. He became a state-licensed psychiatric technician at the age of 18 and married his high school sweetheart. They moved to their home of more than 30 years, Rancho Cucamonga, and raised a family.

An avid baseball fan, Mr. Myers taught the game to everyone in his family. Cancer didn’t quell his passion. During cancer treatments he continued actively coaching. He was surrounded by his family when he died last week at Kaiser’s Ontario Medical Center.

Mr. Myers is survived by his wife of 35 years, Lydia, sons Mike and Andrew, and grandson Ty.

A memorial service is scheduled for Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. at Pierce Brothers Crestlawn: 11500 Arlington Ave. in Riverside. A reception will follow the service.

Donations in Mr. Myers’ name and memory can be made to the USO or Samaritan’s Purse. Cards can be sent to the attention of CAPT, 1220 S St., Ste. 100, Sacramento, Calif., 95811; e-mail messages can be sent to brady@psychtechs.net.

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