Leno Victor “Pee Wee” Fontana
His Life Story
Leno passed peacefully on May 6, 2019 in Spokane Washington. He was born to Dominic and Victoria Fontana on December 10, 1934, in Michel B.C. Canada. He was the youngest of seven siblings, all who were orphaned when Pee Wee was the age of five. Four brothers and three sisters were living together, caring, and raising their young family alone. The oldest brother Popeye quit school to work in the coal mine to support the family. Pee Wee went to the Michel school. One time, because he could, he rode his horse Tiny, into the school and up to the second floor.
He worked with Mr. Albert Porco’s hunting camp in Canada, 1950-51. Pee Wee also worked for his brother Popeye. Pee Wee shoveled and delivered coal to homes at 25 cents a ton, up to six tons a day.
Just before coming to Spokane in 1955, he met his soon to be wife Dorothy Stefanuk, from Cranbrook B.C., at a dance in Michel, May of 1954. They married on July 14, 1956., and started their life together in Spokane Washington. First, he started working in construction, then setting tile followed by thirty-five years at Columbia Lighting. He was retired and rehired as manager and developer of Shenandoah Park in 1991. In 1994, they returned to Canada turning their summer home into their permanent home, where many wonderful summers were spent with family and friends. Never, did the Fontana family spend a summer in the city. After completing their beautiful home, they realized their children and grandchildren were more beautiful and Pee Wee and Dorothy returned to Spokane.
Leno, could do anything, solve it, fix it, build it, and pack it, he was self-taught! This included major construction and five kitchen remodels in 63 years.
Pee Wee loved working for his nephew Bob Fontana, at the hunting camps in the Elk Valley, B.C. for many years. Hunters would request “Pee Wee” for their camp cook. He made an impression on everyone who met him. And was thrilled to do magic and card tricks for them.
He played hockey in the rec league since it started in 1967. Pee Wee played hockey until he was 83 years old, making five goals in his last game, before his stroke in October 2017. He also coached minor league hockey. He enjoyed good friends and times with hockey over the years.
Leno was a member of the American Italian lodge of Spokane. Working the annual spaghetti dinner with his family for years, cooking all the meatballs until 2018, these were wonderful times for him. He was a member of Mary Queen Parish and later Saint Thomas More.
Later in life, he dodged many bullets so to speak with his health. He fought the good fight; his body just wore out. We are grateful he’s not struggling any longer, but his efforts were to be admired as he always tried his 100%.
Leno is survived by his wife Dorothy, daughter Kathy Fontana, grandson Maverick Johnston, son Brett Fontana, granddaughter Maria Fontana, daughter Gina Helgesen, grandson Austin Helgesen, great-granddaughter Juniper Helgesen, granddaughter Jordan Helgesen, grandson Parker Helgesen. - Brett (Leslie Lee), Gina (Rod McKee), Austin (Sophie Yaeger) Maverick (Sydnee Mack), Loving Sister Gloria - Lolly Hockley, in-laws, many nieces, and nephews.
Leno is preceded in death by his parents Dominic and Victoria Fontana, grandbaby Christian Fontana, sister Betty Tustian (Doug), brother Louis - Popeye Fontana (Virginia), brother Jackie Fontana (Lorraine),their son Robert Fontana, brother Fred – Tickey Fontana (Sophie),their daughter Lorraine Fontana, sister Louvaine - Lou Molnar (Wilf), many aunts and uncles.
We express our deepest appreciation to the “angels” that were his everyday caregivers at Sacred Heart Hospital, who referred to Pee Wee as “a celebrity”. Now, he has crossed his last bridge. We will sorely miss him. Rest well dear husband, dad, brother, uncle, grand and great grandfather, and dear friend.
In honor of Pee Wee, his family will be having a rosary on Thursday, June 6, 2019, 6:00 pm at Hennessey Funeral Home, 2203 N Division and a celebration of life service and reception at Saint Thomas More Parrish, 505 W St. Thomas More Way, on Friday, June 7, 2019, 1:00 pm. Please share memories and condolences on his tribute wall.