Thomas J. Fortier, 75, of Springfield passed away peacefully at his home on Monday, March 29, 2021, Vietnam Veterans Day. He was born in Springfield and was a lifelong resident of the city. Tom served in the US Army from 1963 to 1966, with a tour in Vietnam as a medic. He received the Vietnam Cross for Gallantry, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal as well as a letter of Commendation for his actions in Vietnam. He worked his entire life in the retail shoe business, starting out as a shoe salesman and later operating several retail stores, even coming out of retirement as he enjoyed the comradery of the business.
He was particularly active with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and would custom fit disabled children with shoes. He volunteered over 30 years with the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon at Channel 40 to help raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy. He was a longtime devoted communicant of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church in Springfield, a Eucharistic minister and volunteered his time for many church functions including bringing Communion to resident of local nursing homes. His deep faith sustained him through difficult times in his life.
Tom will be remembered as a huge sports fan and was known to get excited about most ball games, especially those of his grandson and namesake, TJ. One of the most meaningful experiences of his life occurred at Fenway Park in July 2017 before a Red Sox/Yankees game he attended with his son and grandson where Vietnam Veterans were recognized on the field with a ceremony that included military honors.
He married the former Shirley Orlick and they shared 41 years of memories, love and family before her passing in 2006. Tom leaves his two sons, Thomas J. Fortier, Jr., and wife Ania and their children Thomas J. and Sophia Fortier of Springfield and Robert J. Fortier and his wife, Joella and their two children and a good family friend whom Tom thought of as another grandson, Oliver Green. He also leaves his sister in law, Barbara Santos of AZ and brother in law Jack Orlick of PA and many nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends for Walk Through Visitation on Monday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Ratell Funeral Home, 200 Main St., Indian Orchard. Funeral services will be Tuesday morning at 8:45 a.m., from Ratell Funeral Home followed by the Liturgy of Christian Burial in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, 417 Boston Rd., Spfld. at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Chicopee. All attendees must wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid physical contact with one another.
For those that wish to mail a memorial contribution, the mailing address is as follows:
Baystate Behavioral Health C/O MDA
759 Chestnut Street
Pediatric Clinic: 50 Wason Avenue
Springfield, MA 01109
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Baystate Behavioral Health, C/O MDA
759 Chestnut Street Pediatric Clinic: 50 Wason Avenue, Springfield MA 01109