North Huntingdon restaurant owner leaves legacy in Fontana’s Cafe
Mary Fontana and her husband James helped open Fontana’s Cafe in North Huntingdon well over 50 years ago.
The newly married couple used extra money they had saved to help James’ parents realize their dream of owning a restaurant.
“She was generous with her life, and she was especially kind to those around her,” daughter Beverly Kratochvil said, adding that her mom always had a positive attitude.
But the restaurant quickly became a passion for Mary Fontana, who found joy in preparing and serving food, whether she was entertaining friends at home or serving customers at Fontana’s Cafe.
Mrs. Mary Fontana, 96, of Irwin, died March 11, 2019, at her home.
Born in Jeannette on Oct. 12, 1922, she was the daughter of late Andy and Mary Fontana.
A passionate gardener, Mrs. Fontana would often spend time outside with her husband, putting her three kids to work.
“It was all good,” Kratochvil said. “I think we learned a lot of disciplines that way. We learned a lot of good, quality skills.”
Mrs. Fontana also was a member of the Immaculate Conception Church in Irwin and its Christian Mothers and Women’s Guild.
But Mrs. Fontana’s leukemia diagnosis changed her life, Kratochvil said.
After she was diagnosed, Kratochvil said her family came together in ways she never expected.
“My family came together and took care of her, and I think that was the lesson she wanted us to learn,” Kratochvil said.
Kratochvil would often stop over to help her mom do chores, such as shopping and cleaning. Mrs. Fontana used the time to tell Kratochvil memories about her brothers and sisters.
And through it all, Mrs. Fontana kept her positive attitude, Kratochvil said.
“She always said, ‘That’s OK, I’ve led a good life,’” Kratochvil said.
Mrs. Fontana was preceded in death by her husband.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her children Janice Pagonis of Pittsburgh and James Dennis Fontana of Buda, Texas; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Services were handled by Ott Funeral Home of Irwin.
Memorial donations can be made to Redstone Hospice, the Leukemia Society or Hempfield Manor.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .