Leo M. Fontaine, 91, of Columbia, CT passed from this life to join his beloved wife of 68 years, Evelyn (Gagne) Fontaine, on November 21, 2019.
He is survived by his son, Leo Jr., and wife, Anita Russo, of Wakefield RI, his daughter, Linda Rainwater, of Columbia, CT, and his son, Michael, and wife, Gloria, of South Kingstown, RI., as well as his grandchildren, Lauren Feehrer, of Carlsbad, CA, Max Rainwater, of Saugerties, NY, Allison Rainwater, of Columbia CT, and Toby Fontaine, of Nantucket, MA., and grand-dogs Hobie, Layla, Luna, and Hank.
Leo was born February 3, 1928, in Norwich, CT to Arthur and Yvonne (Viau) Fontaine, of Taftville CT. Leo graduated from Norwich Free Academy, then became employed full-time by Fontaine Trucking, founded by his father. He proudly reminisced about moving tractor trailers around the truck yard at age 14, and getting his CDL license at age 16. Leo married the girl of his dreams, Evelyn Gagne, at age 20, and the young couple started their family in Taftville. Leo continued driving trucks for his dad for several years, but eventually, the Fontaine family founded Ideal Tire Co. in Willimantic, CT. Leo took great pride in the business he and his brother, Armand, ran, offering quality automotive services to the surrounding community for decades, though he always seemed to miss his years on the road behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. In 1961, Leo and Evelyn bought a cottage at Green Hill Beach in Rhode Island. Every Summer the Fontaine children got to have big fun on the beach from mid June to early September, while Leo drove to Willimantic and back every day, eagerly jumping in the cold ocean water with a son or two each evening, after a long, hot day at work and a 90 minute commute back to the shore. In 1968, Leo and Evelyn built a lovely home in Columbia, CT. Leo set up a well-equipped wood shop in the basement where he enjoyed building furniture for family members and friends. Leo and Evelyn resided in their Columbia home, with a series of well-loved and extremely spoiled canine companions, for the remainder of their lives.
Leo was a quiet, humble man, but with a quick wit. Not long ago, some enterprising young man attempted to scam Leo by calling him, identifying himself as Max, his grandson, stating that he’d gotten into an accident in New Jersey, was charged with DUI, and would need money wired to him in order to be released from the police station. Leo called his daughter in alarm, but was able to be convinced that Max was safe and sound and no money should be transferred. The second time this occurred, Leo was ready! Not missing a beat, Leo told the scammer, “Well, you got yourself into this mess, so you’d better get yourself out!” and hung up. Even in the hospital, Leo enjoyed making people smile; “Do you have any allergies, Mr. Fontaine?” “Yes.” “Oh, what are you allergic to?” “HOSPITALS.” When first brought to the Windham Hospital Emergency Room after the car accident that led to his eventual demise and was notified that his daughter had been called, he told the nurse, “Well, don’t expect her any time soon. She’s always late!” (She was.)
Leo loved his family to a fault, foregoing his own wants and needs for those of his family. Where there was a need, he stepped up, from replacing the four bald tires on the car of his daughter’s college roommate, to making Evelyn’s mother welcome in their home throughout her decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease, and ultimately supporting Evelyn herself for so many years, as she struggled with blindness due to Macular Degeneration, as well as Alzheimer’s Disease. Leo saw himself as a provider and protector, roles he served exceptionally well. Sadly, in the last several years of his life, especially since the passing of Evelyn in May of 2016, Grandpa Leo felt his mission in life was complete, that the world was passing him by, and he had nothing left to offer, but he was so wrong! People loved him! What Leo failed to realize was that being lovable in and of itself is a gift to the world, and the quality for which he will be most missed.
Leo will rejoin his lifelong sidekick and co-pilot, Evelyn, in the West Street Burying Grounds, Columbia, CT, in a private ceremony. To sign the online Memorial Guestbook, please visit www.potterfuneralhome.com
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