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Remembering Pat Fontecchio '63

Long-time Club director Pat Fontecchio passed away on July 19, 2007. Pat had been a teacher at Middletown High School South for 25 years. Pat is survived by her husband, Dick Fontecchio '59, three children and two grandchildren.

Pat served on the Club's Board of Directors since its founding in 1986. She was co-president for one term in the late 1980's. But her most notable contribution to Cornell -- and she would agree -- was as a fundraiser. Each Fall since 1987, Pat organized and ran a local Phonathon to gather pledges for the Cornell Fund from alumni throughout New Jersey. She raised an estimated $1 million in donations in those 20 years -- donations that helped Cornell award scholarships, hire faculty, upgrade facilities, and much more. Pat's success as a fundraiser stemmed from her tireless skills at lining up volunteer callers and motivating them to charm their fellow alumni.

Pat was a special education teacher at Middletown High School South.

A memorial service was held at the high school on November 15, 2007, in an auditorium filled with students, teachers and Cornell alumni. Speakers recalled vividly how Pat touched their lives. After the service, an outdoor bench was dedicated in Pat's memory. The inscription reads: In Loving memory of Pat Fontecchio, dedicated teacher, esteemed colleague and resilient friend - 2007.

Dick Fontecchio (center) and family members at the dedication of a memorial bench at Middletown High School South

Bruce Wagner '64, Club secretary, had been Pat's Cornell Club co-president, and he spoke about what he learned from Pat during that time:

Pat was ever the teacher. Since I was a new volunteer leader, Pat was my mentor. Here's some of what she taught me:

Speak up. Nothing gets done if you keep your creative ideas to yourself.

Ask of others with enthusiasm. Give it your best shot. It’s OK if they turn you down.

It’s OK to voice ideas that are initially unpopular. You may win if others modify and run with your idea – or you might just wear them down.

Thank everyone in sight. People are never insulted by too many thank you's.

And what I learned about myself: I didn’t have enough will to say NO to Pat.