Colfax remembers Charlene Fontana

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Colfax lost one of its most well known citizens when Charlene Audrey Fontana died unexpectedly on Feb. 15, 2012. Mrs. Fontana, born Nov. 7, 1927 in Sacramento, was the daughter of Francis and Lura Mae West. Her father owned a mortuary in Auburn and the Sierra Chapel in Colfax, and was the county coroner. Except for a short period while attending Armstrong Business College in Berkeley, Mrs. Fontana lived in Colfax throughout her life. Like many locals, she worked at the Colfax Fruit Growers Association. She was also a teller at the Colfax branch of Bank of America, served as a secretary at Colfax Grammar School, and was a clerk at the county court house in Colfax. She also put in a stint as a card dealer in Nevada. Mrs. Fontana was also a longtime volunteer, serving as a City of Colfax planning commissioner and manager of the ballpark concession. She was also an election poll worker. Mrs. Fontana enjoyed sports, playing softball and competing in several bowling leagues for many years. She also enjoyed playing cards and marbles. The day before her passing, she had driven to Citrus Heights to play bingo. She was also a big Sacramento Kings fan. She used her skills to coach softball teams, and supported her children’s and grandchildren’s sporting activities. “She loved watching her kids and grandkids do their sporting events,” said son Lynn Fontana. One of her pastimes was collecting, he said. “She was an avid collector of many different items, all the way from the old-time Avon bottles, up to the new Beanie Baby era,” Fontana said. “She would buy McDonald’s Happy Meals just to get the toys inside.” Traveling was also one of her passions, taking her throughout the United States and from Alaska to the Panama Canal. Some of those travels were taken with friends such as Dorothy Barnes. “On our first trip we went to Hawaii … The last trip was to Alaska,” Barnes said. “We (Rita Marson, Betty Barnes, Diane Campbell and Dorothy Barnes) had such wonderful times together. We were a foursome for a long time … things change.” Mrs. West is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Michael and Carol Maynard and Lynn and Carol Fontana; daughter and son-in-law, Marla and Ron Gillard; and six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Edward Fontana, and sister, Marilyn Prisk. Family and friends attended graveside services Feb. 22 at the Colfax Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Sierra Vista Community Center.