Jimmy Fontano of Fontano’s Subs dies at age 55
April 5, 2012
James “Jimmy” Fontano.

By Susan S. Stevens

The twinkling brown eyes and ready smile of James “J.F.” or “Jimmy” Fontano are gone from the corner of Polk and Carpenter streets. Mr. Fontano died Feb. 16 at age 55.

He was a constant presence at Fontano’s Subs and grocery store, owned and operated by his family his entire life. His home was across the street.

“He was my right-hand person,” said his father, Aniello “Red” Fontano. “Now my daughter Mary will be.”

“He did everything for me,” Peggy Fontano said of her husband. “His heart just gave out trying to fight a raging staph infection” that was not discovered until after his death, Peggy Fontano said. He had cold symptoms, but nothing worse before he fell and hurt a knee Feb. 15, she said. Because of pain in his knee, he spent a night in a hospital emergency room, was sent home in the morning, and died the following evening. Doctors said he had a normal temperature, pulse, and blood pressure when in the ER.

James Fontano’s death was the second blow for the family this winter. Around Christmas, a fire damaged the store and forced its closure. Mary Fontano said the family expected to reopen in April after repairs were finished, “God willing.”

James and Peggy Fontano met 34 years ago when Peggy went to work at the store. Her first husband died 24 years ago, and she married Mr. Fontano 21 years ago. He treated her children and grandchildren as his own.

Other than spending time with his family, he enjoyed following hockey, particularly the Chicago Blackhawks, and an occasional trip to a riverboat casino, Peggy Fontano said.

In addition to his wife Peggy (nee Dunn), Mr. Fontano is survived by his parents, Aniello and Gilda (nee Eterno) Fontano; stepchildren Mark Hundrieser, Kathy (Rad) Nenodivic, Steven Hundrieser, and Patricia (John) Justice; ten grandchildren; two great granddaughters; sister Mary; brothers Dominic (Celeste), John (Margie), and Neil (Corrine); and ten nieces and nephews.

After visitation Feb. 20 at Salerno’s Galewood Chapels, a funeral Mass was said Feb. 21 at the Shrine ofOur Lady of Pompeii, followed by interment in Queen of Heaven Cemetery.