Henry “Hank”Fontanilla passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at his home of natural causes. Hank is the son of the late Tommy Fontanilla and Lydia Ortiz Silva. He is survived by his two loving sisters: Dolores Ferriera Batrez and husband Fred, Sr. (San Jose) and Dianne Murphy and husband Donald (Hudson, Florida). Survived by his loving aunts and uncles: Jesse Ortiz (San Jose, Ca.), Alice Cherny (Sequim, Wa.), Lupe Ferguson (Fairfield, Ca), Marina Jackson (Fairfield, Ca). Survived by his loving nephews and nieces: Derek Ferriera, Darren Ferriera, David Ferriera, Dawn Higgins, Mark Fontanilla, Aaron Fontanilla, Anna Small, Tina Sellers and Donnie Murphy. Preceeded in death by his brothers: Gary Fontanilla and Gilbert Fontanilla; loving Grandmother Teresa Ortiz and aunts: Pearl DeArmond and Eva Wren and cousins: Andy Fontanilla and Chris Fontanilla. Survived by several cousins and friends.
Hank was raised in Gilroy, California and lived on Rosanna Street for all of his formidable years. Hank returned to Gilroy in 2002, after living in Glendale, California for almost 30 years. For the last 10 years he made his home at the Monticelli Apartments, a small apartment community for seniors, located in Gilroy. Hank had great culinary skills and was an awesome chef. He thoroughly enjoyed creating his various specialty dishes and even more, he enjoyed sharing them with his neighbors. It gave him great joy and happiness when people enjoyed his cooking. It was not an unusual sight to see Hank walking with a pot of soup or chili in his hands on his way to one of the neighbors. Hank also like to go into the fields, with his friend Bobby Hirasaki to pick fresh vegetables. With grocery bags overflowing with vegetables, he proceeded to bring them home and distribute the vegetables to his neighbors, door-to-door. He also gave free haircuts to neighbors and friends. Hank was known for his generosity and sharing of his gifts and talents.
Hank attended Jordan, Brownell schools and was a member of the Gilroy High Class of 1954. In 1955, Hank joined the United States Marine Corps in 1955 and was honorably discharged in 1957. Soon after his discharge, he enrolled at Sullivan Beauty College in San Jose and received his license in Cosmetology. His professional career as a hair dresser spanned more than 50 years. Even after retiring from his profession, he continued to cut hair up to the time of his death. He worked at several major beauty salons in the bay area including I. Magnin’s. He moved to Glendale, California to take advantage of the proximity to Hollywood and the opportunity to expand his talent in the hairdressing business. He worked at Dimar’s Beauty Salon in Glendale for many years and at other beauty salons in the Los Angeles area. Overtime, it became apparent that he had chosen the right profession and soon established a solid base of clientele that even included Farrah Fawcett.
Hank loved the outdoors. He had a great passion for fishing. Just about any type of fishing, and was especially fond of deep sea fishing and stream fishing. He never passed up a chance to go fishing. He didn’t seem too disappointed when he came home empty handed…but just happy for the opportunity to fish. Some of his most memorable fishing trips were with a his close circle of friends who enjoyed camping and fishing in Baja,California and Mexico. In the old days around Gilroy he and other friends would go looking for steelhead in Glen Creek. Hank was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing golf whenever he had the chance. He also was a pretty good bowler and was a member of the Gilroy Bowl Team #5 up until the time of his death. He was also a member of the Gilroy Ramblers Club. The Ramblers still exist today and held a reunion which Hank attended. The Ramblers includes a close group of Gilroy friends who attended Gilroy High School, and enjoy getting together and have similar interests.
A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at Habing Family Funeral Home, Gilroy at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Gilroy Senior Center or the Gilroy Compassion Center.