• Glenn Kahl

Tony Mistlin Left His Legacy in Ripon

Tony Mistlin was more than a new car dealer -- he was a major benefactor to his hometown of Ripon.

Photo Credit: Mistlin Honda Facebook page

Mistlin left his calm demeanor in the Ripon community with something of a Midas touch with development of the Sports Park fields and the two water falls as well as the indoor soccer arena.

He was instrumental in the development of the Sports Park acreage, the water tower and the near $1 million elevator to take local folks up to the verandas that overlook the ball fields -- both baseball and women’s softball -- while eating a lunch from the sandwich stand below named after one of his daughters. The soccer arena was named after another daughter.


Very intense in talking about his Ripon, Mistlin always cracked a smile in his many conversations about his community. On top of that water tower is a large painting of a soccer ball that can be seen from planes above.


I have penned numerous stories about Mistlin with him reading every word, then calling me and asking if I could drop a half dozen copies of the paper on his front door. He would frame and hang these stories in his office at his Honda dealership in Modesto.


Early on, Tony told me about his brush with Nazi troopers walking through a commuter train as the youths were on their way to a private Boys School. Those five boys were in their preteens and reacted to the threat facing them. Mistlin said he put two fingers over his upper lip symbolizing Hitler the fuhrer. In retrospect, he said, all of the boys in the group could easily have been taken off the train, never to be seen again.


He told me that all of his children had enough in their savings to take care of their own retirements. He was serious in wanting to leave as much of his treasure as possible to the betterment of Ripon. He was thankful to the community and wanted to give back. He would never respond to anyone asking for money -- it had to be of his own thinking and assessment of a need for the children and people of the community.


A number of years ago I showed up early at the hot air balloon festival not wanting to miss the dawn lift off scheduling. Getting there at the breakfast area about 5 a.m., I found no one else there except for one man walking among the tables. Tony and I introduced ourselves to each other and we sat down and had breakfast together. Tony’s first words were, “Let me buy your breakfast.” The small talk during breakfast was more than awesome.


Thanks for everything Tony. May God Bless! . You have truly made a difference in Ripon .

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