Albert Fionda accomplished much in his 87 years, daughter Linda Polk said.
"Whether you knew him as I did, Dad; or as Papa for my son; or Uncle Al; or Pops, as Jeff Fryzel called him; or as the Mayor of St. John by the town people, you knew he was a legend in his own time,” Polk said.
Fionda, of St. John, worked two jobs most of his life.
“He always said he hardly ever saw me when I was young, other than to kiss me good night when I was sleeping,” Polk said. “He took heart in everything he did and, if he didn't know how to do something, he learned.”
Born in Calabria, Italy, in 1925, Fionda came to Chicago in 1947.
“By the time he met my mother, his wife, Lorraine, and I was born in 1952, he learned to read, write and speak in English and became a U.S. citizen — an amazing task for anyone,” Polk said.
He worked most of his life as a laborer and then as a machinist until retiring at age 72. After living in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood and Dolton, Fionda moved to St. John in 1991. There, he learned to love gardening. He also enjoyed spending time with his family and sitting in the driveway socializing with his neighbors.
His only grandchild, Jeff Polk, posted a tribute to his grandfather on Facebook.
"Work hard, make family first, treat others as you wish to be treated and live life to the fullest. Just a few of the things my Grandfather taught me. Going to miss you, Sir."
“Our family is grateful to his sister Maria and the entire DeBartolo family, Deacon Viviano, Joe Tocci, Jeff Fryzel, Fred Frego, Guerrino Mattei and his late wife, the Hamiltons, the extended Polk family and his neighbors for the love and care shown my father and to Dave Peterson for his heartfelt song,” Linda Polk said.