Alice Cole Fortunato
Alice Cole Fortunato passed away after an extended illness on December 19, 2019.
Alice was the only daughter of the late Edwin and Alice Callahan Cole. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard O'Neill, brother Gerald Cole and his wife Nancy, brother Edwin Cole Jr. and his wife Jean, son-in-law Fredric C. Padgett Jr., son-in-law Augustus Leo O'Connor Jr., and granddaughter Katie Lynn Fortunato. She is survived by her five children: Alicia Walsh and her husband Michael Walsh of Stamford, Patrick Fortunato of Massachusetts and his former wife Cynthia Brucoli Fortunato of Stamford, Christina Padgett of Stamford, Ellen Fortunato and her husband Arthur Ruffels of Stamford, and Andra O'Connor of Stamford, as well as dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews throughout the country.
Born in Stamford to a family of modest means and generations of public service, Alice continued the family legacy in fulfilling a lifelong commitment to community engagement and political participation. Raised in her beloved Branford, she returned to make her home in Stamford raising five children on her own, and from 1972 through 2002, held several administrative positions in the Office of Operations of the City of Stamford.
Alice was a woman of considerable civic accomplishments and influence, having served in public office for over 30 years. As the Democratic Registrar of Voters for nearly three terms, she instituted Stamford's first electronic voter history program while the City was awarded the State of Connecticut Democracy Cup four out of five years in recognition of the highest voter turnout in the State. She chaired both the Urban Renewal and the Public Safety & Health Committees during her tenure on the Board of Representatives, and represented Springdale's 17th District on the Democratic City Committee for 20 years. Alice also served as a director on the boards of Keep Stamford Beautiful and The Stamford Historical Society, and was invited to attend Stamford's first Civilian Police Academy. In addition, she was a long-standing member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians/Daughters of Erin, the Irish Democratic Club, the League of Women Voters, and a Justice of the Peace.
Her love of the ocean and particularly the beaches of South Carolina filled Alice with a childlike wonder that fed her soul and senses, and compelled her to share that joy with those closest to her. Every summer, she took a house on the beach and hosted her children, grandchildren, and friends for a week of sand, surf, waterparks, pier-fishing, House of Blues, mini-golf, boardwalk shopping, and our annual dinners at Yamato for the best Japanese hibachi in the southland.
An avid sports fan since her days as a student athlete, Alice ardently cheered her teams come grief or glory. Whether local or national, amateur or pro, the love of the game lived large at Hickory Way, as did a penchant for music of every genre, as Alice could often be heard humming the eclectic melodies of Usher, Amy Winehouse, Garth Brooks, Boz Scaggs, The Platters, and all things Puccini.
She will be remembered for her fierce wit, unwavering loyalty and devotion to her family, friends, and the city she loved and served so tirelessly. The spirit of community flourished in Alice as her allegiance and dedication to the public good exemplified the universal qualities of citizenship with honor and distinction. Her passing has created a void that will not soon be filled. Oh, Alice, we hardly knew ye.
The family has entrusted final arrangements to Nicholas F. Cognetta Funeral Home, 104 Myrtle Avenue in Stamford, Connecticut. Following a short morning wake on Friday, December 27, 2019 from 8:30- 10:30 a.m., a Mass of Christian Burial will follow at the Church of Saint Cecilia, 1184 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT at 11:00 a.m. The Rite of Committal with a private Interment service will follow immediately at St. Agnes Cemetery, Branford, CT in the Callahan family plot.
Memorial contributions may be made in the form desired by friends and mourners to a charity of their choosing.