Robert S. Fontana, M.D.
Wednesday, February 10, 1926
Date of Death:
Monday, March 30, 2015
89 years old
Robert S. Fontana, M.D.
Robert Scott Fontana, M.D.
Robert Scott Fontana, age 89, died Monday, March 30th, 2015 at Rochester Methodist Hospital.
He was born on February 10, 1926 to Christopher and Madeline (Pat) Fontana in St. Louis, Missouri. The family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
At age 17, he enlisted in the Navy and was sent to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York for his premedical education. After graduation (Phi Beta Kappa), he attended St. Louis University Medical School.
Upon graduation in 1949 (AOA), he started a two-year rotating internship at Philadelphia General Hospital. There, he met Margaret Ann Schlegel, and they were married September 26th, 1953. They moved to Rochester, Minnesota where he began an Internal Medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. After passing pulmonary specialty boards, he joined the Thoracic Disease Section at Mayo.
He started the Mayo Lung Project as the principal investigator. He always found great satisfaction in seeing and caring for his patients. He showed kindness and compassion to all. In addition, he was a bronchoscopist and received the Chevalier Jackson award.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret and four children: Scott (Peggy) Fontana, Lakeville, Minnesota; Elizabeth (Dave) Remy, Mercer Island, Washington; Christopher (Laura) Fontana, Warrenville, Illinois; and Kathryn (Charles) Dale of Fox Island, Washington. Additionally, six grandchildren: Sarah, CJ, Patrick, Lisa, Laura, and Kara. He is also survived by his sister, Betsy Anthony of Denver, Colorado. He was preceded in death by son, Mark and his parents.
There will be a funeral Mass at the Church of St. Johns the Evangelist (11 4th Avenue, S.W., Rochester, Minnesota) on Friday, April 10th, at 10:30 a.m. Father John Lasuva will officiate. Interment will take place at Calvary Cemetery (500 11th Ave NE Rochester, MN 55906)
Memorial donations may be made to Season’s Hospice (1696 Greenview Dr SW, Rochester, MN 55902; www.seasonshospice.org).
Online condolences are welcome at www.mackenfuneralhome.com.
The family of Robert S. Fontana, M.D. has received the following condolences.
Bob was one of my favorites within Mayo's chest department ... and he was certainly our dad's favorite. I am sorry to learn of his passing. Bob was a fine person and a gifted physician.
I was so sorry to hear of Bob's death. What a loss for you, his family, and for all of us who knew him.
As a teenage, I was fortunate to become his patient--probably at the request of my father. Art Olsen thought the world of Bob, both as a physician and as a friend. As I grew up, I too learned to value his fine judgment, his listening ear, his kindness, his wit and laughter.
Bob was a wonderful man. I will miss his presence in my life. I send my deepest sympathy.
Dear Fontana Family,
My deepest condolences on the loss of Dr. Fontana. I am so glad that I got to meet him. I enjoyed his charisma and appreciated the love that he had for his family. We will be missed. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you during this difficult time.
We are so very sorry for you loss! Robert was a great man and we are glad we got to spend time with him recently. We enjoyed all his stories about the family and especially his conversations about the Vikings and Bears rivalry. If there is anything you need please let us know? You are in our thoughts and prayers.
I am so very sorry for you loss! I only know of your family through the memories that had been shared with me through Mark so very long ago, but I do know that this is a great loss for all of you. You all, as always, are in my thoughts and prayers.
I am so sad for all of you going through such a difficult time. My memories of Dr. Fontana, as we teens called him, are long ago, but yet very fond. He was always friendly, kindhearted and had an amazing ability to make us laugh. He was one of a kind and had such a grand personality. My mother so enjoyed the years they worked together on the Mayo Lung Project and always spoke highly of him.
With caring thoughts and prayers,
Linda (Uhlenhopp) Valenti
Santa Fe, NM
I just wanted to extend my sympathies, as I remember "Dr. Fontana" as one of my father's best friends and colleagues. I remember what a warm smile and cheerful attitude he always had when we met him. He always made time to talk to us kids, even at the 'grown ups' parties. What a wonderful gift his life has been to so many! I am sure you will miss him.
Kathy Andrews (nee Sanderson)
I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Fontana. It's been many years since I last saw him, almost certainly prior to my Mayo High School graduation back in 1981, but I still feel very close to him because of the many fond memories I have of seeing him when I would go visit my dad at the Clinic, who worked closely with him there for many years and whose office was right next to his. I was always really happy to see him there, and to see that he always seemed so cheerful and genuinely happy to see me too as he would take a few moments to chat with me and my dad in a very gregarious and good-natured way. I especially love the image I have of him coming and very casually and comfortably taking up practically the whole doorframe of my dad's office as he'd come and chat for a few moments with us, with a booming voice and huge smile on his face. I remember him as such an exuberant man, very happy with life and his family, good friends, and his work. I will always remember him as one of the greats of my many role models, not so much for the great work that he undoubtedly did, but for the truly genuine and caring and exuberant way that he was. My heart goes out to the entire Fontana family as we all celebrate the life and mourn the loss of such a wonderful man. May peace be with you all.
Dear Margaret, Scott, Elizabeth, Christopher, and Kathryn: Robert was one of the giants of the staff of Mayo Clinic and a hero to me. He taught us to relentlessly focus on the care of our patients. He lead through example and doing; teaching and mentoring the young staff the value of a strong focus on patient care with compassion and patience. Thank you for sharing your husband and father with the rest of us. He made us all better.
Dear Fontana Family:
Bob was a wonderful person and truly the most unselfish person that I ever worked with. He was loved and respected by both his patients and colleagues. His thoughtfulness and wise counsel was sought by many of us as young physicians when we had difficult medical decisions to make but were unsure of the best approach. He was always reassuring and supportive and never condescending to us younger colleagues. Bob was a tremendous mentor. He was a mentor who did not criticize but praise you efforts. Consequently you always wanted to give 110% to prove that you were worthy of his assessment.
I know that Bob will be missed by all of us. As my mentor, he was the single most important person to me in my professional lifetime. I shall miss him greatly.
Please accept my deepest sympathy. Respectfully, James Jett
I was so sorry to hear of Dr. Fontana's passing. I remember playing at your house as a child. But more importantly, I remember the wonderful care that your father provided to my mother, Bernice Chisholm, as his patient at Mayo. My sincere condolences,
Kitty Chisholm Principe