Obituaries » Ron Fontana
June 11, 1933 - November 10, 2021
Ronald Gene Fontana, 88, passed away Wednesday, November 10, 2021, at home. Ron was a lifelong resident of Ankeny. Ron was born on June 11, 1933, to Joseph and Erma (Ugulini) Fontana.
A visitation will be held on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church (510 E. 1st St.) in Ankeny with a short vigil service to follow. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church with burial immediately following at Ankeny Memorial Gardens. The service will be livestreamed, and can be seen via the church website.
Ron graduated from Ankeny High School in 1951. Ron was a four- year starter in football, basketball and baseball earning 12 letters. He earned all-state honors in football as a quarterback and helped the Hawks to a 30-3 record in four seasons and an undefeated season his senior year. Ron also had the distinction of playing in three state basketball tournaments in 1948, 1949 and 1950. During those three seasons Ankeny had an 88-4 record. Ron always said it was an honor for him to start as a 14-year-old freshman along with his two brothers on the ’48 team.
Ron always mentioned classmates Barney, Keith, Vern and Bob from the class of 1951 and how those guys were great teammates. Ron also enjoyed the monthly breakfasts the class of ’51 still had to this day.
Ron attended Iowa State lettering in football. His time at Iowa State was interrupted as he served our country in the Army, 24th Infantry Division and was stationed in Korea from 1954-1956. While in Korea, Ron continued to play football on the base camp team. One of Ron’s great memories was being selected on the Far East Army All-star football team. He said a master sergeant would drive him an hour in a jeep to their practices in preparation for the Armed Services all-star series. Ron felt it was quite an honor to be flown to Tokyo, Japan for two weeks, where the Army all -star team held practices in preparation to play against the all-star teams from the Navy and Air Force. After coming back from Korea, Ron re-enrolled at Iowa State where he played one more year of football for the Cyclones.
After college, Ron worked at John Deere for 35 years, with 21 of those years being a union representative. Ron was a proud member of Union Local 450. He loved John Deere and the Union. This was evident by his John Deere collection and always saying John Deere insurance took care of their employees from cradle to grave.
Ron was inducted into the Ankeny Alumni Hall of Honor in 2006 along with his two brothers Dick and Ray. Ron was also inducted into the Central Iowa Fast-pitch Softball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Ron was very active in the Ankeny community serving on the following boards and committees: Volunteer worker at Ankeny football games, wrestling tournaments and track meets for 36 years, Ankeny Little league coach and board member for 12 years, Ankeny Parks and Recreation board member for 6 years, served on the first Ankeny Hall of Honor Committee, Board member of the Ankeny Area Historical Society, served on the feasibility committee for Prairie Meadows Race track, Chairman of the UAW-Deere Drug and Alcohol Prevention Committee for 15 years and UAW Local 450 CAP council for 15 years.
Ron belonged to the following organizations: Local 450 Retirees Chapter, the Vittoria Lodge, VFW Post 9662, Ankeny Area Historical Society, Ankeny Sports Booster Club Century member and Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic church.
He loved Ankeny and when he would meet someone, especially young people, for the first time he would always greet them and say, “Welcome to God’s Country”. Ron was always proud to have had his mom, his five children, several grandchildren and now his great-grand children attend Ankeny schools. He recently said there aren’t many families that have had five generations attend Ankeny schools.
Ron always had special memories and moments with hundreds of friends and family members. Ron will be remembered most for the loving support he always provided, how much he prioritized family and the never- ending love and caring for others. He will be missed dearly.
Ron is survived by his children, Bob (Shari) Fontana, Roxane Fontana, Joe (Andrea) Fontana, Rhonda (Paul) Nygren and Mike Fontana; soulmate, Rachel Jones; sister, Donna (Bill) Huber; grandchildren, Ashly Schmidt, Jami Paulson, Nathan Nygren, Madison Zirretta, Carli Folger, Ayriele Nygren, Matt Fontana, Spencer Fontana, Nolan Nygren, Molli Rodriguez, Emily Fontana and Wyatt Fannan; great-grandchildren, William, Jason, Kinsley, Kyle, Olivia, and Wesley Fontana, Jack Zirretta, Mason, Camden and Aliyah Schmidt, Adorjan, Kruise, Quincy, Stassi, Kaison and Gia DeLeon, Adonis Rodriguez and Paityn Peterman; and many nieces and nephews from the Fontana, Huber, and Logan families. He is also survived by Mike Jones, Jeff (Diane) Jones, Dave (Missy) Jones, Matt (Tisha) Jones and their children Joe, Jimmy, Jessica, Blair, Cole, Jenna, Keenan, Ryle, Santiago, Jacy, and numerous Fontana cousins.
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Erma Fontana; brothers, Dick and Ray Fontana; daughter-in-law, Amy Fontana; and a sister-in-law, Mary Fontana.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Central Bank %Damon Miller, North Ankeny Boulevard, Ankeny Iowa. Per Ron’s wishes memorial contributions will be distributed to the Ankeny Area Historical Society, O.L.I.H. Catholic Church, VFW Post 9662 and Ankeny Student Scholarship fund.
A special thank-you to Dena Kerkove, A+ Homecare Service, and Mercy Hospice.