TONY BOTTONE was the kind of guy who, once you made friends with him, you were his friend for life.

And what a friend! He was generous almost to a fault and enjoyed taking care of people, family and friends, and keeping everybody feeling good with his rich sense of humor.

"Tony was such a compassionate, thoughtful, humble, down-to-earth person, and a great person to be around," said his sister Judy Bottone. "Tony would brighten a room instantly as soon as he walked in, wearing his usual humorous, mischievous smile."

Anthony Bottone, who, with his seven brothers, drove trucks for the family-owned Edge Transportation Co., in Hatfield, Montgomery County, died Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He was 53 and lived in Souderton.

Tony was an active churchman, a lover of nature and a devoted family man who felt that his life was truly blessed by nine grandchildren.

He and his brothers followed in the footsteps of their father, Louis J. Bottone, onetime president of Teamsters Local 107, in the trucking business.

For years, they worked out of Local 107 until Tony's brother Edward started Edge Transportation.

Tony was born in South Philadelphia, one of the 14 children of Louis and Catherine Bottone. The family later moved to Roslyn, where Tony grew up and attended Abington High School.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2005, but he never gave up the hope that he would recover.

"Although this was a battle his brothers couldn't help fight for him, he knew that his family was there to support him," his sister said.

"Tony may have passed away, but we all know he didn't lose the battle. He did things his way, and went on his terms."

Tony loved the outdoors and was an avid bird-watcher. He was also a passionate fisherman.

"He fished wherever he could find a creek, whether around here or in the Poconos," said his sister. "All he really needed was a puddle of water."

He also enjoyed a game of golf, shooting pool and playing cards with friends and family.

"He hated to lose," Judy said. "He was very competitive."

The family was puzzled by Tony's illness because he had always been "Mr. Health Nut," as they put it. He called himself "Shredder," after the muscular villain in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoons.

"Drinking protein shakes in the morning and beating young bucks at racquetball in the evening, after working all day," his family wrote.

"He always knew the vegetable or fruit of the week to eat to keep illness and disease at bay.

"Tony was always available to his family and friends, whether it was to grab a cup of coffee, share in conversation or help out in any way, you could always count on him."

Another object of his generosity and energy was his church, Zion Lutheran, in Flourtown. Anything the church needed, Tony was there, ready and willing.

"For a man who didn't lead a famous life, he will not be forgotten," Judy said. "He will live on, always and forever in everyone's heart, as a hero."

Besides his parents, sister and brother, he also is survived by his wife, the former Barbara Brunnen; three daughters, Judy Wisman, Lisa Stevenson and Michelle Delgado; two sons, Anthony and James; six other brothers, Jack, Jimmy, Freddie, Franny, Chris and Michael; five other sisters, Maryann Brown, Peggy Smith, Joann Skomski, Kate Ortego and Christine Riley, and nine grandchildren.

Services 10 a.m. tomorrow at Zion Lutheran Church, 654 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown. Friends may call at 6:30 this evening at the Ciaverelli Funeral Home, 951 E. Butler Pike, Ambler. Burial will be in the church cemetery. *