Shared from the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention’s Employee Spotlight
In the Fall of 2017, Corrections Officer William Antonius hopes to retire after more than 30 years with the Department. His career with the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) began in 1985 after serving in the U.S. Army and National Guard during his senior year at Auburn High School. Married to his high school sweetheart, they raised four beautiful children and have 9 precious grandkids. A devoted family man and public servant, Officer Antonius also makes time to give back to the community and does so in one of the most unique but also most enjoyable ways possible: as a king!
They’re called the Federal Way Harmony Kings, a barbershop Chorus and a chapter of the nationally recognized, Barbershop Harmony Society, established in 1938. With hundreds of chapters across the country and around the world in countries such as Sweden, London, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia; barbershop quartet is a spectacular world of it’s own.
Officer Antonius has been with the Harmony Kings for 17 years. One of the many exciting perks of being a member of this traditional, all-American phenomenon is the opportunity to compete with and meet others from around the globe. The competition starts in the Spring time at the divisional level for choruses and quartets; Seattle and Tacoma. From there, it moves on to districts; Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, British Colombia, and Alaska. If the quartet survives that round, they advance to the International competition for Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Judging is based on singing, presentation, and musicality.
“We never make it too far though,” he chuckled. “To get at that level, it’s like another fulltime job. Between work and spending time with my family, I can’t imagine.”
But what Officer Antonius humbly left out until much later in our conversation is the community outreach and volunteer work they do. Being a non-profit organization, they host an annual show to fundraise for teens and young adults between 12 – 20 years of age to attend Harmony Explosion, a 3-day summer camp held at Pacific Lutheran University.
“There’s about 250 attendees every summer, but what’s astonishing is that it started with maybe about 20 kids when it first started many years ago. It’s a youth movement.”
The camp teaches them to ‘Sing for Life’ as they build confidence, teamwork, and leadership through performance. Programs like Harmony Explosion are important as research finds that children who sing in choruses receive significantly better grades than those who have never been a part of a choir. Parents of choristers report that it has also contributed to other positive qualities such as good memory, good practice and homework habits, and high levels of creativity.
The Harmony Kings rehearse every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Federal Way. Guests are always welcome to watch their acapella singing and can even learn the craft. When they’re not rehearsing, volunteering, or competing for that international title, they could be doing other major things like singing Christmas carols for the Alzheimer’s Unit at retirement homes; opening for Grammy award-winning artist and music legend, Patti Labelle; auditioning for one of America’s favorite television shows, America’s Got Talent, and making that special someone smile when performing specially ordered singing grams to him/her; Valentine Grams are Officer Antonius’ favorites!
The Department will surely miss Officer Antonius when he leaves us next year, but we’re thankful that he shared a part of his story with us. When I asked him what message he’d like to pass on to his colleagues, he replied “Please don’t take your work home with you. You must find ways to alleviate the stress.”
He went on to share how grateful he is for the 30 plus years of amazing friendships he’s built at DAJD and how that has helped him stay positive throughout the decades.
“There are five or six of us. We get together for a movie and dinner at least once a month, outside of work. You just gotta do it. It’s how you keep going.”
He also accredits his first and foremost passion, the love of his life; his wife.
“Forty-two years together. She’s my rock.”
Mrs. Antonius, we thank you, too, for sharing your husband with us at DAJD!