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December 29, 2023
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Frank Fornario - WW2 Veteran, Legislator, world traveler and family patriarch - passed away on December 29 in the home he loved.
Frank was a proud Brooklyn boy, born in Borough Park to Mildred DeFeis and Nicholas Fornario in 1927. He did all the things Brooklyn kids did – played stickball in the streets, visited the Prospect Park Zoo and went to Coney Island. Frank frequently reminded us kids that his early life in Depression-era Brooklyn was more than just play. He worked in a candy store, delivered packages (besting Amazon by decades), and shined many, many shoes. He was an altar boy at early morning masses and was a Shabbos boy for his Orthodox neighbors.
He was a proud American and as soon as he graduated high school from the NY School of Printing, he enlisted in the US Navy. Frank served in the Pacific during WW2 on the USS Helena. His military service continued in the reserves and he served at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the Korean War.
Frank married the love of his life, Rosemarie, in 1951 -- a marriage lasting 70 years, and had four children. They moved to the suburbs, a new development in Blauvelt, NY, in 1956 where he lived the rest of his life. Like many other veterans, Frank went to college (NYU) on the GI Bill and became a teacher at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry. Never content to do just one thing, Frank was also a real estate broker and founded the MLS System in Rockland County. Frank was actively involved in veterans affairs and politics. One of Frank’s proudest accomplishments was co-founding the Camp Shanks Memorial, a monument honoring Orangetown’s pivotal role in WW2. In 1982, Frank was elected to the Rockland County Legislature, where he served the residents of Orangetown and the county for over two decades. His motivation was that he believed it the most effective way to positively impact the community.
Frank was active in the Republican party politics in many ways working on numerous campaigns, serving as Chairman of the Blauvelt Republican Party and being a member of the Black Hats that regularly met to discuss politics. Even after retiring from office in 2003, Frank still met for many late-night coffee discussions with dear friends Bob Simon and Jim Foley. Frank also served as de facto mayor of his Blauvelt neighborhood, circumnavigating the block daily while listening to the local talk radio on his headset.
Outside of his work and public service, Frank was a two-time game show contestant, appearing on Stop the Music in the 1950’s where he won a silverware set and on Family Feud in 1988, where he anchored the Fornario team to victory. Frank was also a pioneer in the art of videotaping and there are countless hours of VHS tapes that have captured cruises, graduations, and recitals.
Frank was immensely proud of the extensive traveling that he and Rosemarie enjoyed after 1985. This intrepid couple visited every continent (and over 75 countries), embarked on over 60 cruises, and even made it to the edge of space on the Concorde. He also was a very proud grandfather and went to countless graduations, concerts, recitals, and events that involved his grandchildren who all adored their grandfather as much as he adored them. He deeply loved his great grandchildren as well and was blessed with 12.
Frank was predeceased by his beloved bride Rosemarie, his three brothers-Eugene, Alvin, and Nicholas, his son Raymond and grandson Brian. He is survived by his son Frank (Pat), Barbara Noyes (Keith), and Nick (Toni). He is survived by his grandchildren, Gina, Jana, Lisette, Aydee, Michelle, Denise, Evan, Steven, Jennifer and Nicole. We are grateful to his friends, family and neighbors. Frank had been homebound for the past few years and we would like to thank his caregiver Izolda for her care the past two years as well as United Hospice of Rockland.
A wake will be held on January 3, from 5-8pm at the Wyman Fisher Funeral Home, 100 Franklin Ave., Pearl River. A graveside service will take place on January 4 at 11AM at Frederick Loescher Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 220 Brick Church Rd., Spring Valley.