Former Antioch councilman, two-time Citizen of the Year Leo Fontana passes at 100

Leo Fontana in one of his many roles serving the Antioch community, here participating in the Antioch Rotary Club’s Coats for Kids annual program. Photo: Antioch Rotary Club

Former business owner, long-time Rotarian, co-founder of Antioch Sports Legends and the Leo Fontana Lifetime Achievement Foundation

Leo Fontana. Source: Leo Fontana Lifetime Achievement Foundation

By Allen D. Payton

It was announced by several Antioch organizations on Monday, August 14, 2023, that long-time resident, two-time Citizen of the Year and former Councilman Leo Fontana passed away on Sunday. He turned 100 years old earlier this year.

The Antioch Rotary Club of which he was a long-time member posted a message on their Facebook page which reads, “It’s with great sadness to let you know that long time Antioch Rotarian Leo Fontana has passed away. Our condolences to Leo’s family. He will be greatly missed.” They also shared several photos of members with Fontana and mentioned his Leo Fontana Lifetime Achievement Foundation benefiting youth in Antioch. An annual trivia night fundraiser is held and the winning team is awarded The Leo Trophy.

The Leo Trophy presented to the winning team of the annual trivia fundraiser. Leo Fontana with fellow Rotarians and AUSD representatives for a presentation of donations from the Antioch Rotary Club and Leo Fontana Lifetime Achievement Foundation to the Middle School Sports Program in 2017. Sources: Leo Fontana Lifetime Achievement Foundation and Antioch Rotary Club

A brief message posted on the Facebook page for the Antioch Historical Museum, where the Antioch Sports Legends wing is located, reads simply, “We grieve the passing of Leo Fontana” and later “A legend in so many ways.”

Leo Fontana (front left) with his Antioch Sports Legends co-founders (back row) Dave Sanderson, the late Jim Boccio, Sr. and Eddie Beaudin and (seated) Tom Menasco. Source: Antioch Sports Legends.

On the Facebook page of the Antioch Sports Legends, which Fontana co-founded, the following was posted about him:

“It is with a heavy heart that the Antioch Sports Legends Program, shares the passing of Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame Community Sports Leader inductee and Co-Founder Leo Fontana.

Our condolences go out to his daughter Andrea, Family and Friends.

Leo Fontana’s bio from his 2008 Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame induction.

If it existed, Leo could easily claim the title of ‘Father of Modern Antioch.’ His behind-the-scenes involvement goes back six decades. He had a hand in bringing County East Mall, East County Bank, Delta Memorial Hospital and the Antioch Senior Citizens Center into existence. He’s served on the boards of several local charities and organizations. Antioch’s voters elected him to the Antioch City Council, on which he served from 1982-1986. He was also an Antioch Planning Commissioner, Parks and Recreation Commissioner and Charter President of the Antioch Merchants Association. The Chamber of Commerce honored him twice as Antioch Citizen of the Year. Leo might easily be called the ‘Cal Ripken, Jr.’ of service club members. He has a perfect attendance record of 29 years with the Lions Club and since 1978 with the Rotary Club of Antioch. Sports and recreation programs in the city all seem to trace their origins back to Leo. He participated in the creation of the Antioch Hornets football team, Lob Ball League, Antioch Softball League and Antioch Babe Ruth Baseball, for which he served as its first president. An athlete himself, Leo played catcher for the Antioch Merchants team and left halfback for the Antioch Alumni Football team in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was chairman of a committee that created a new corporation to run the Antioch Municipal Golf Course, and helped found the Antioch Bocce Ball League. His love of sports and his community led to his involvement in assisting in the creation of the Antioch Sports Legends Program and display in 2007, for which he was honored, with the other four founders, as Antioch Citizens of the Year.

Leo was 100 years old.

Funeral services for Leo to be announced!”

Leo Fontana was presented with a Key to the City by Mayor Wade Harper and the Antioch City Council. Source: Antioch Rotary Club.

Fontana was also honored with a Key to the City by the Antioch City Council, during Mayor Wade Harper’s term. The Leo Fontana Fountain at City Hall was first dedicated in 1987, then redesigned, rebuilt and rededicated last year.

The Leo Fontana Fountain at Antioch City Hall was rebuilt and rededicated in September 2022. Herald file photos

Publisher’s Note: Leo was my sponsor when I first joined the Antioch Rotary Club in 1994 and was a mentor and advisor to me while I served on the city council. Leo was my long-time friend, and we had the chance to meet one final time, last year as I brought him copies of the latest issues of the paper. We spoke about what was happening in, and he shared his concerns about, the city for which he cared, so much. Leo left an indelible mark on Antioch. He truly lived the Rotary International official mottoes of Service Above Self and One Profits Most Who Serves Best. Leo will be missed.

the attachments to this post:

Leo Fontana

The Leo Trophy & Leo with Rotarians for donations 2017 Antioch Rotary Club

Antioch Sports Legends co-founders & logo

Leo giving away Coats for Kids ARC

Leo Fontana fountain 2022

Key to the City

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