It is with heavy hearts that we are mourning the loss yet celebrating the life of our sweet “Nana”.
Mary Elizabeth Fornatto passed away on December 13, 2023. She is survived by her husband Elio, children Sue Carney (Jim), Bob (Mary Ann), Dan (Kathy), grandchildren Kelly (Ben), Madeline (Mitch), Allison, Annmarie, Patrick, Julia, Nicholas, great grandchildren Theo, Jack, and nephew Jim Walker (Martha) and grandniece Stephanie. Her best friend and sister Pat preceded her in death.
Mary was born on the southside of Chicago where she had a simple and modest upbringing. As a youth she worked hard and earned money babysitting. As a teenager Mary worked at an ice cream factory after school where she eventually saved enough money to pay for her last two years of high school as a boarder at Sacred Heart Academy in Lisle, IL. It was here where her Christian faith really blossomed. She was deeply fond of this school and often said she had some of her best memories there growing in spirit and making lifelong friendships. She would attend reunions regularly keeping in touch with the Benedictine Sisters and her classmates.
After high school Mary attended and paid her way through the Oak Park School of Nursing. She was a natural caregiver with a huge heart for others. It was her mission to treat and heal the sick. On her lunch breaks she would love to walk across Harlem Ave. and get a Chicago style hotdog at Parky’s. Mary studied hard, completed her nursing degree and began her career. While working at a hospital a friend introduced her to Dr. Elio Fornatto M.D., an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who came to this country from Turin, Italy. They met for a coffee and soon after went on their first date to a dance hall in Uptown. As they say the rest was history and Mary married the love of her life on December 17, 1960. Through their almost 63 years of marriage, Mary and Elio traveled on many wonderful trips to Europe, South America, Mexico, Canada and Africa.
As Mary started having children, she dedicated her life selflessly to her family in Elmhurst. She exemplified traditional values now mostly long gone. She always had meals ready for her husband and children, was available for every need her children had, and meticulously maintained her home. While her husband worked long hours she took her kids to swim lessons, baseball and baton twirling practice, music lessons, fishing and many Cubs games. She also studied and learned to speak Italian fluently so that she could communicate with Elio’s parents, Mario and Giulia, and all the other Italian relatives. Mary loved attending Italian operas and would study the opera in advance in order to fully understand all the words. She learned to expertly cook Italian dishes and shared her love of cooking with her grandchildren. Her homemade ravioli and lasagna were well known specialties. We even have a hardcover picture book called “Cooking with Nana” illustrating the beautiful times they shared in the kitchen. Mary also learned to sew and became a highly skilled seamstress. She made outfits for herself and her kids. Exquisitely sewn quilts are cherished by many of her grandchildren. She taught some of her granddaughters how to sew and one of them is now a fashion designer.
Mary was a quiet, humble servant of the Lord, and her actions spoke loudly of her commitment to her faith and family. She attended mass regularly, said the rosary daily and was always reading books about the saints. She will be dearly missed.
A visitation was held at Chapel Hill West Funeral Home, 17W201 E Roosevelt Rd, Oakbrook Terrace, on Thursday December 21st. Funeral Services were held on Friday December 22nd at Visitation Catholic Church 779 S. York Rd. Elmhurst. Entombment at Chapel Hill Gardens West Mausoleum.
If you would like to make a donation, please send to the Benedictine Sisters of the Sacred Heart/Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, IL. www.shmlisle.org
For more information, please call (630) 941-5860.