Joe Fortunato

1930 - 2017 (Age 87)


NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Joe Fortunato, the speedy linebacker who helped the Chicago Bears win the 1963 NFL title, has died. He was 87.

Fortunato died Monday in Mississippi, where he starred at linebacker and fullback at Mississippi State.

"Joe Fortunato was not only a great player for the Chicago Bears, including being a part of our 1963 championship at Wrigley Field, he was a key figure in one of the greatest linebacker trios in Bears history alongside Hall of Famer Bill George and Larry Morris," Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement Thursday. "The Chicago Bears family extends our condolences to the Fortunato family on the passing of Joe."

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In 12 seasons with the Bears, Fortunato was a three-time All-Pro selection and a five-time Pro Bowl pick. He had 16 interceptions and 22 fumble recoveries and was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1950s. From Mingo Junction, Ohio, Fortunato was inducted into the Mississippi State football Ring of Honor last month.

Fortunato was an assistant coach with the Bears in 1967 and 1968 before returning to Mississippi. He ran Big Joe Oil Company.


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My sincere condolences to the Fortunato family and friends. May the God who binds up the brokenhearted and comforts all who mourn sustain your family during this very difficult time. Isaiah 61: 1, 2.

My condolences to the Fortunato family. May you find comfort knowing that your loved one is in God's memory. May he give you comfort and strength during these difficult times.

To the Fortunato family, I am so sorry for your loss may you find comfort in 25:8 "He will swallow up death forever, And will wipe away the tears from all faces."

So sorry to read about the loss of your loved one. Psalms 90: 10 shows how he lived a long life of special mightiness from God. Keep his many memories close in your hearts and minds and cherish them forever. May the comfort of God be with you all during this time of grief.

RIP, Joe! Loved watching you at your best! Thanks for your contribution to the Bears, the NFL, and to America.

My heart is torn in peaces to know he is gone. May you find hope in God and strength.

Dear Fortunato Family,

I played ball with Joe in grade school and high school in Mingo Junction. We were Best Friends. We went to college, he to Mississippi State and I went to Tennessee. He gave me a big poster of his football laurels with the Chicago Bears which i framed and have cherished very much. I have bragged about Joe to everyone i have ever known. Joe, Rest in Peace until we meet again best friend, Don Jones, M.D.

May the family find peace and comfort in knowing all sickness, all pain and death will one day be gone for this has been promised.