Yale University

In Memoriam

Umberto José Fontana Briceño

Umberto Fontana
1964 graduation


The Tennessean

Nashville, TN

March 9-12, 2017

He loved his family, friends and food, especially in combination. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, April 26, 1938, he died in Nashville March 6, 2017 at age 78.

He attended San Ignacio in Caracas, and graduated from The Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey. He earned a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard University.

His early career was in marketing in Caracas and New York and later in finance in Caracas and Nashville. He initiated and financed new programs and assisted clients with "significant non-recurring events."

Food was the focus of many conversations. Blessed with gustatory memory, he could recall the details of a meal decades later. He loved cooking with and for family and friends, especially savoring the sobre mesa — those rich after-dinner conversations about every topic imaginable. 

He was enthusiastic, sophisticated, and charming, He was curious about the history of many things and the world around him. He had a keen sense of humor, especially about himself, and an expanded sense of family. He treasured his friends and engaged with strangers.

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth Crook, his children Umberto (Oscar) Jose Fontana (Lyn) Nashville, Tracy Fontana Dineen (Bill) Fairfield CT, Pam Fontana Sconzo (Jack), Greenwich CT, Sarah Fontana (Aracelis Kearny) Denver CO. and Rob Howell (Katie) Greenville, SC. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren. Umberto (Trace) Jose Fontana, Eric Fontana, Daniel Dineen, Stephanie Dineen, Rafael Sconzo, Greer Sconzo, Quint Sconzo, Mills Howell, Robert Howell and Tee Howell. His siblings Leopoldo Fontana (Raphael Mendez), Antonieta Gonzalez, both of Caracas and Sylvia Ossott (Johann) Vienna, Virginia and his dear cousin and partner Ludovico Fontana (Flor) Caracas. Sisters-in-law Nancy Crook Ward, Birmingham, AL and Cynthia Crook, Nashville.

There will be a celebration of his life Sunday April 2, at 1:30pm at Wightman Chapel at Scarritt Bennett. Visitation with the family 11-1 pm.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made in his name to The Peddie School, Vanderbilt Medical Center Palliative Care Center, or to Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York City.