Remembering “Tony” Wu Li, owner of Tony’s Sushi

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Ocala has lost an icon.

Tony’s Sushi Japanese Steakhouse owner, “Tony” Wu Li, died Saturday at the age of 46.

Tony’s family said that Tony had a brain tumor and died from complications related to surgery.

The restaurant, located 3405 SW State Road 200, has long been the favorite of many in Ocala. From the atmosphere to the food, Tony’s Sushi has always been one of the greats, if not the best.

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Those in Ocala who had the pleasure of meeting Tony knew what kind of person he was. You were never “just a customer” because he always made everyone feel like family. He was known for being a loving, fun guy.

Tony was adored by many and thousands have expressed their sincerest condolences on Facebook.

Erika Hensley, wrote, “I really don’t know what to say as I am lost. You were such a huge part of my life for many years, and even though I became a teacher and moved to another county when I came to visit you at the restaurant, you hugged me, had lunch with me, or visited with Mia and I trying to steal her nose and asking me life was going. There were a lot of ups and downs for me as I worked for you. You hired me when I was 20 years old and a bit of a mess. You helped me grow up, taught me the value of having a great work ethic, and not to be “shellfish” (which I always teased you about and you told me to shut up). You knew before I did that I was pregnant with Mia and helped motivate me into getting into education. If I ever needed a job, or even a second job, you and Jane welcomed me back with open arms. I wasn’t perfect, but you always pushed me to be better, stronger, faster. I would not be who I am without you.”

Rhiannon Glunz, wrote, “I thought you would live forever.. 23 years of knowing you were just not enough. You were an inspiration, touching the lives of many people.. and bringing much joy, stability, and consistency, especially to those who needed it most. Thank you for being such a great friend, employer, and just an overall decent person in this world. I remember meeting you at 14 years old and thinking you were the most badass samurai warrior (such an enormous presence), with the best restaurant in town… we always had so much fun working and picking on each other. And you honored me greatly when I moved on to my own business, and you hired me to work in yours and your families/friends’ homes, and continued to consider me over all of the years. Now, at 37 years old, this impression has never changed. You will forever remain as a warrior in my mind and heart. I will always be grateful for knowing you. May your soul rest forever in peace.. you will be sorely and immensely missed, old friend ♥️.”

Byron Jennings, wrote, “I’m not always good with words or putting my feeling out. But I had the privilege of knowing a wise man that was like a brother a councilor bodyguard a true friend. It really hard for me to this on. I’m going to miss you Tony Li til we meet again. You and your family will always have a place in my heart. The craziness thing just happened my brother Mark Dodge just called me to make sure I’m ok we are grieving together in our own way. God, please watch over our loved ones in Jesus’ name amen.”

To his employees, he wasn’t just a great boss. He was a mentor, a father figure, and a great friend who always had a smile on his face.

“Tony was a wonderful family man. He loved his family and he loved his customers. He was honest to God great guy who left us too early. He truly is an icon…a shining light. My heart goes out to his sweet wife. I hope the family heals quickly from this loss,” wrote Brian Johnson.

Tony’s wife, Jane Li, said she would like to thank the community for their support during this difficult time. She said she deeply appreciates the warm condolences.

Tony’s Sushi opened in 2000.

[Video:Tony’s version of the chicken dance on his birthday]