NOLAN J. FONTENOT
San Angelo – Nolan James Fontenot, Sr. a former Concho Valley Basketball Chapter member passed away at his home surrounded by family on November 23, 2020, 10 days after celebrating his 81st birthday.
He leaves his wife of 59 years, Nancy Salvato Fontenot, his sons Nolan Jr./Jimmy Fontenot (Debbie), Randy Fontenot (Jill), Daniel Fontenot (Rhonda); 5 grandchildren: Jetton Fontenot (Fiancé Cody Klepac), Nathan Fontenot (Kalie), Colton Fontenot, Reagan Fontenot (Fiancé Adrian Garcia), Collin Fontenot and miracle great‑grandson Kallen Fontenot. Nolan is also survived by his brother Joe Fontenot (Sue) of Louisiana and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Nathan and Nancy Fontenot and two infant brothers.
Nolan was born November 13, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana and was raised in the small town of Fenton, Louisiana. He graduated from Fenton High School in 1957 and served in the United States Air Force from 1957‑1961. This Cajun fellow just happened to be stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas when he met the “Italian” love of his life, Nancy Carolyn Salvato. They married July 1, 1961 and began their journey of life together. After military service, Nancy and Nolan lived in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, Louisiana, Odessa and Crane, Texas and ultimately settled back in San Angelo.
Nolan’s work career early on found him running a roustabout crew in the oil fields of Odessa Texas, later moving up to selling oilfield chemicals. He never met a stranger and sales and marketing seemed to be his calling. His time spent selling heating and air‑conditioning for Three Rivers HVAC and S&W Services was the highlight of his working career. Traveling to the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and the Bahamas were trips awarded for sales success.
Nolan had a passion for sports and most of you reading this who graduated high school in the 70’s to early 90’s know about him or knew him personally. His sons believe his passion for sports and helping kids stems from his own humble upbringing. Nolan told his boys about an incident when he was a young man in school. “I wanted so badly to go to the basketball game, but I didn’t have 10 cents to get on the bus.” Due to his love of sports, he refereed basketball and volleyball and officiated baseball and softball for over 30 years, all over Texas. Nolan served several years as President of the Southwestern Basketball Officials Association. Many young men and women crossed paths with Nolan during his 30 years of youth sports participation and his memory will never fade. Coaching all of his sons in YMCA sports was also a highlight of his life. He taught his boys with a strong arm but always praised their achievements and successes.
After his boys grew up and started families of their own, you would always find Nolan in the stands cheering on his grandchildren in every sport they participated in. One 9th grade basketball game in particular, Nolan wasn’t happy with the way the game was being officiated (remember, he had 30 years of experience) and all of his hollering at the referee got him ejected! Nolan’s last words to the Ref as he left the gym were “That’s the best call you’ve made all night”. Nolan also enjoyed traveling and helping his grandchildren with their stock show projects and was particularly proud of their accomplishments showing pigs.
Age eventually catches up with all of us and Nolan gave up refereeing, but switched gears and started helping more in other parts of the community. He volunteered many years with the San Angelo Relays and helped with the calf scramble at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. After retirement, Nolan helped his oldest son at his Wildlife Studio. He was referred to as the “Tour Guide” always willing to show all the animals displayed and help the young people with identification of species.
Nolan was a strong member of the San Angelo Cowboy Church and a past Elder and Lay Pastor. He is a saved man and was willing to help others in their time of need. Small horseshoe nail crosses were always carried in his front pocket. When someone was struggling with life or just needed a prayer, Nolan would hand them a cross and ask to pray for their wellbeing. One of his last truly great experiences in his life was to hand out these crosses to a group of wounded warriors and a General in 2018.
The family would like to thank the special angels in his life. Shannon Sawyer who has been a dear friend ever since helping Nolan and his beloved dog, Bitsy, find their way home one afternoon; Howard Mitchell who faithfully took Nolan with him to Wednesday Prayer breakfast; and Bill Vickery who picked him up for Emmaus Prayer breakfast every Friday. Many thanks go to Cindy, Mary, Mike and Jenny from St. Gabriel’s Hospice.
To all of our many dear friends, there will be no church service due to COVID‑19. Open visitation will be at Harper Funeral Home on Wednesday, November 25th from 8 am until 7 pm. A private graveside service with full military honors will be held at Calvary Cemetery in San Angelo for immediate family only.
If inclined, please send donations in Nolan’s honor to Children’s Miracle Network San Angelo, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Alzheimer’s Association or a charity of your choosing.