Monday, June 05, 2006

Longtime West End Activist Dies

West End activist Irene ‘Sis’ Fontaine, 85, died in Portland on May 25. Born at Gorham’s Corner of Irish-born parents, Mrs. Fontaine was the mother of thirteen children – seven boys and six girls. A graduate of St. Dominic’s School and Portland High School, she also earned a degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine in 1973 at the age of 52.

Mrs. Fontaine’s record of community activism in the West End ranged from her part in the formation of Portland West, her work at the Fraternity House, and her part in the development of the current Gorham’s Corner. She also taught at the Rosa True School and Head Start, and was also a Vista volunteer. She lived all her life in the West End, much of it on Gray Street.

‘Sis’ Fontaine was also known for her exceptional singing voice and dancing skill, specializing in Irish music and dance, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, the most important holiday of the year in the predominantly Irish West End.

She is survived by 12 of her 13 children and nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Patrick's Church on May 30. Interment was at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.


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