- Place of birth:
Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
- Place of passing:
Yorba Linda, California, United States
|Let the memory of Marilyn be with us forever|
This memorial website was created in the memory of our dear mother, Marilyn Fontana. Please feel free to share a thought, story, memory or tribute.
"Memories of Don and Marilyn Fontana" by Rodney Punt
My musical journey began in Inglewood, in its public schools from kindergarten through high school. Over the summer between my junior and senior years at Morningside High (1962-63), I joined Don Fontana's Crenshaw Christian Church, and later when school was in session also the MHS choir. We became fast friends, as did later my younger brother Gordon, who also sang in Don's choirs. Don became a mentor to me, as to many young people during this period. I was surprised when Don cast me as Rasmussen T Finsdale, a role in the musical, L'il Abner, which brings another memory:
A fellow senior, Larry Swarbrick, performed the role of L’il Abner to my character Rasmussen T. Finsdale, in the De Paul/Mercer musical. Larry had, the year before, memorized Poe’s long 'The Raven' in lieu of an English final and recited it deadpan to everyone's amusement. But his life would be a life lost in the Viet Nam War just a few years later, while serving as an officer in the US Army. I also served as an Army officer but survived the era. In what seems today a cosmic compensation, Larry's younger sister, Carol Swarbrick, went on to a considerable career on the musical stage and television, and is still active today. We all knew and loved Don and Marilyn.
A high school friend, Johnny Carl, also mentored by Don, became a talented choral director and worked with Don at the Chrystal Cathedral. Another high schooler was the pianist Bruce Gaston, who fled the USA during the 1960’s to avoid the draft, and settled in Thailand. Taking to that country's native music, he became a permanent resident and is today a composer with an international reputation in Thai music.
As chance would have it, I was with Don one day while home again after graduation from MHS when he was offered the job at Glendale Presbyterian Church. Don and Marilyn remained close to my brother and me and to our parents over the years that followed. In the mid-1980's Don called, and subsequently Marilyn and my wife arranged, the residency of their daughter with us at our home for the better part of a year when she needed a place to stay in the West Los Angeles area.
We were able to see Marilyn and Don at his retirement tribute at St. Andrew's Church in Newport Beach in 1992. They are both now part of our beloved memories."
"Truman and I were privileged to sing with Don and Marilyn in the Sanctuary Choir of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. We enjoyed many wonderful "happenings" pool-side at their lovely home, where there was always a lot of laughter, singing, and great food. Marilyn was Don's grace note and champion. Her warmth, humor, and love for everyone made her truly special. We grieve her loss, but rejoice that she and Don are now reunited once again."
"We were blessed to have known Don and Marilyn Fontana. Don was the Choir Director at Vermont Ave. Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles We always enjoyed his musical talents, the choir and many musical presentations. You are truly blessed to have such wonderful parents!"
"Kevin and I are inspired by a family filled with so much love. Both of your parents raised you to be loving, spirited individuals. When you speak of them, it's with joy and with a twinkle of the fond memories kindled by the mention of their names . .both of them had reason to beproud. . We are blessed to know and love their children."
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