Tom Fornasero, 83, died Friday, December 27 at his residence, Brookdale Senior Living, in Tracy.
Born, Thomas Paul Fornasero on September 19, 1936 to Thomas Fornasero Jr. and Colleen (Dellavalle) Fornasero, he was a life-long resident of Tracy. Growing up as an only child, he formed close bonds with his cousins, especially Paul and Elanor- all born just months apart in 1936. Weekends as a child were spent playing with his cousins on the grandparents’ farm in rural Tracy. The family home on Linne Road became a gathering place for relatives traveling between San Francisco and Madera, a tradition that still carries on today.
Tommy attended Jefferson Elementary and Tracy High School (class of 1954). He was involved with the Future Farmers of America. Following high school, Tom attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Humphries Business College before joining his father in the family farming operation. He served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1962 and was stationed in Nuremberg, Germany as a supply clerk; the friendships he forged with his fellow service members lasted his lifetime, with several reunions over the years.
Following his release from the army, Tom met the love of his life, Letty Theresa Pelanconi, at her parents’ silver anniversary party, which he attended with his aunt and uncle. They were married on October 19, 1963 and made their home in Tracy. Tom eventually took over the farming operation following the death of his father in 1964. Over the years, he farmed tomatoes, dry beans, alfalfa, and walnuts. He later specialized in custom walnut harvesting and drying, serving his needs and those of other area farmers.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, Tom served as a volunteer with the Tracy Rural Fire Department. At that time, with no sophisticated radio system in place and fortunately living across the street from Station 94, Tom would open the front window of his residence, listen as the calls came in and responded accordingly. Over the years, Tom was also an active member of the Italian Catholic Federation, Branch #390 and the Elks Lodge, enjoying the monthly meals that both organizations served.
During their marriage, Tom and Letty enjoyed traveling to over thirty states and many international destinations, meeting new friends with each trip. One memorable trip was to Tahiti in 1980 with cousin Giulio and his wife Susan. In 2016, Tom experienced the trip of a lifetime when his daughter and son-in-law traveled with him to England and Italy, where he appreciated countless sights and time spent with his relatives in Piemonte and Como, especially his cousin Terezina and her family in Narzole (Italy).
After his retirement, Tom could always be found at the Cinemark theater, usually seeing 4 or 5 movies per week, many of them repeatedly. He would then act as a movie critic to family, friends and people he met on the street. Once he was diagnosed with diabetes, the theater also became his haven for sneaking forbidden treats, such as goobers. Letty would always catch him because of the empty wrappers left in his pockets! Also, during this time, following 2 major heart surgeries, Tom became obsessed with walking for exercise. He could be found making his usual trek around the Carbona area and later, the West Valley Mall, logging 5+ miles daily. This exercise was then followed by a meal at his favorite hangout, Four Corners Restaurant, which was conveniently located next door to his house. The friendships and conversations made there were extremely important to him. In recent years, he enjoyed his weekly breakfast klatch every Wednesday at rotating restaurants.
A life-long Yankees fan, Tom also enjoyed watching all sporting events on television, including his current favorite teams, the Warriors, Sharks, Athletics and 49ers. Following the games, he would recap the details with good friends, Rena Cole and John Scarlata. He attended many World Series games in Oakland and saw his beloved Yankees win Game 7 of the 1956 Series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
Tom also enjoyed fishing, trips to the casinos and reading every conservative book published. He would then have countless debates relating to politics with his cousins and best friend, Sergio Zilli. As his health declined, he enjoyed time spent with his family, especially his grandsons Giacomo and TJ, and his favorite dog, Brutus.
In 2018, Tom made the decision to move into Brookdale. While there, he enjoyed many lively conversations with other residents and staff. He also enjoyed the many outings that were provided, especially to Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory in Lathrop. Recently, he was the star at the Ugly Sweater Christmas party in his Llama sweater! Prior to his sudden death, Tom had boasted that he attended 4 fabulous Christmas dinners that week.
Tom is lovingly survived by his wife of 56 years, Letty. He is also survived by his daughters, Lisa Marie Fornasero of Tracy and Julie Lynne Fornasero (husband Tim Logan) of San Anselmo, Grandsons Giacomo Thomas Oliveri, serving at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas and Troy Eugene Newcomb, Jr of Tracy.
Funeral arrangements are with Fry Memorial Chapel. Visitation on Tuesday, January 7th from 1pm – 9 pm, with a rosary at 6pm. Mass on Wednesday, January 8th, 11am at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church. Entombment will follow at Tracy Mausoleum; luncheon reception will then follow at the IPFES hall.
The family asks for donations to be made in Tom’s name to the St. Bernard’s Parish Building Fund or the San Francisco Zoo, one of his favorite places to visit.