Tony is one of the nicest men you'll meet in this hobby. While he was pretty good at chumming the waters during the lawsuit era with "Pay Da Money", in reality he came across in person someone who loved the toy train hobby no matter who made 'em.
Unfortunately yes a lot of folks are gone either through death, leaving on their own, or being shown the door. The good news is those that left on their own or otherwise are around. I usually see them at York or travels on other forums. Contrary to some folks beliefs, you can belong and participate on other forums.