Richard Donald Fontanella “Dick”, 83, departed this life on March 25, 2019 surrounded by his loved ones. A lifelong resident of Meriden, he was the son of the late Joseph and Antonia (Zampoli) Fontanella. Richard, the youngest of six children, attended local schools and graduated from Meriden High in 1955. Richard served with the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1961 in Arizona. He was very proud to receive the Good Conduct Award during his service.
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Dick was employed by Northeast Utilities as an administrative assistant for over 30 years. After his retirement, his love of travel led him to a part-time job at King Travelways in Meriden. He was a very devoted parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Church where he served as a Eucharistic Minister.
Richard was a selfless individual who dedicated his life to community service in his beloved hometown of Meriden. A talented performer from an early age, Richard was known as “Mr. Entertainment.” He was the founder and director of the Kiwanis Hi-Liters, a musical youth group that entertained at the local convalescent homes and senior centers for 62 years. In addition, Richard also taught ballroom dancing to generations of students for over 50 years.
During his lifetime, he was bestowed with numerous awards and honors. He was inducted into the Meriden Hall of Fame in 2006. He received the Lion’s Club “Man of the Year” award, the Jaycees “Man of the Year” award, and many awards from the Kiwanis Club, where he was a lifetime member. The Kiwanis Club was also a proud sponsor of the Hi-Liters. Many local and state government officials also recognized Richard over the years for his community service.
He is survived by several nieces and nephews, Sharon Fontanella Gamelli (Bill), Joseph Fontanella (Jill), Dolores LaRiviere (Ronald), Richard Busa, Robert Busa Jr., Jane Fitzgerald (Mark), Mark Busa (Mary Rose), Cindy Burnep, and Rhonda Busa. Special great nieces and nephews include Katie and Sara Gamelli as well as Erica and Micala Fontanella. He is also survived by several other great nieces and nephews.
Richard was predeceased by his siblings, Levia Guzowski (Henry), Angelo Fontanella (Helen), Carmella Busa (Dante), Alice Schiavetti (Tom), William Fontanella (Diana Fiora) and his nephews, Ronald Busa and Robert Busa Sr.
Special close surviving friends include Michael Spellacy, Kevin Santoni, Lori Smith, David and Dorothy Elkin, Gerard Shappert, Richard and Jackie Hackbarth and Peter Swiatek, as well as those who have passed from this life, Barbara Spellacy, John Knop, Brad Sawtelle and renowned pianist, Irving Fields.
The family wishes to thank the staff at the Village at Kensington Place for providing Richard with such loving care over the last four years. He enjoyed a wonderful quality of life there. The family extends their gratitude to The Connecticut Hospice of Branford for the compassionate care they provided Richard during his last days.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial to be held on Saturday, March 30th at 9:30 a.m. at St. Rose of Lima Church, 35 Center St., Meriden. Everyone is asked to meet directly at the church. Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Family and friends may call at the John J. Ferry & Sons Funeral Home, 88 East Main St., Meriden, on Friday, March 29th from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Richard’s memory may be made to The Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter, 200 Executive Blvd., S #4b, Southington, CT 06489. For online condolences, please visit jferryfh.com.