Roger Joseph Fontanella
Roger Joseph Fontanella
  • February 23, 1932 - May 11, 2017
  • Columbia, South Carolina

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COLUMBIA - Roger Joseph Fontanella, 86, died peacefully with his loving wife by his side on Thursday, May 11, 2017. Born in Dean, Cambria County, Pa., he was a son of the late Mario “Mark” Joseph Fontanella and Albina Theresa Rossa.

Roger can only be described by the feelings of those who knew him – loved and respected. Those whose good fortune brought them close to this exceptional man had the opportunity to share his courage, wisdom, wit and friendship.

He had courage in great quantity and it was displayed in this last difficult year of his life. Needing constant care the last several months, Roger managed to die as he lived – with grace and dignity. Still possessing and displaying that inward strength that characterized his uniqueness during his entire life.

Roger attended Cresson High School, Cambria County, Pa., Indiana Central University, and George Washington Law School. He worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and South Carolina. He later went with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, in Washington, D.C. where he retired. He was an avid hunter and loved fishing especially at the Bennetts’ condo at Pawleys Pier Village in the spring and fall. He also enjoyed his club membership at the Bull Run Fishing Club. He was also a longtime member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Columbia.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Thompson Fontanella; sons, David Mark Fontanella, Patrick Joseph Fontanella, and Robert Joseph Fontanella; daughter, Michele Marie Fontanella; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of Indianapolis; and two sisters, Rose Ann Fontanella and Debra “Debbie” Fontanella (Ronald Keith Creamer), both of Altoona, Pa. He is preceded by his parents and brother-in-law, John Simelbauer.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Oliver Gospel Mission or Harvest Hope Food Bank.

The family would like to acknowledge Blue Ridge Hospice in Irmo, S.C.; Mrs. Vera Wood and Ms. Vivian Harris who also cared for him; and Ms. Stephanie Small and her mother, Ms. Jessie Lee Boykin, whom he loved dearly.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date in Pennsylvania. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family. Please sign the online guestbook at