Viola (Biada) Fondriest, age 83 of Concord, MA, formerly of New York City, passed away peacefully on January 15, 2016 at Rivercrest in Concord, MA with her son and daughter-in-law at her side. Viola was the beloved wife of the late Fabio Fondriest, who passed away in 2011.
Born in Lover, Trento, Italy on May 4, 1932, she was the daughter of the late Giovanni and Giuditta (Marchetti) Biada. Viola spent her first 23 years in this town of 500 people in the Italian Alps.
It was here that she developed what would become her life-long passion of designing and making dresses. It started with making dresses for dolls. After World War II, Viola worked as a seamstress in Italy until she immigrated to the United States in 1955 and settled in New York City. Viola found a piecework job in a New York City garment shop in her first week in her new country. While she continued to work in garment shops, she also developed her own clientele for whom she made alterations and repairs. From there, she progressed to making dresses and wedding gowns as her clientele grew. In the 1980's she began working as a dressmaker for Diane von Furstenberg. Over the next 25 years, Viola's dresses were worn down runways at fashion shows and even displayed in the windows of the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Viola and Fabio first met in Brooklyn in 1956. They married in February 1959 and lived in New York City for the next 48 years. In 2007 they moved to Newbury Court in Concord, to be closer to their family. Viola was eternally grateful for the special bond she developed with each of her three grandchildren as she plied them with old-country advice, passed on wisdom from her new-country experience, and encouraged them to aim high.
Viola and Fabio were devoted to each other for 52 years. Their home, whether in New York or Concord, was always lively with visits from friends and family and Viola ensured that every visitor was well fed. When friends would comment that, with all the people coming and going, their home was like Grand Central Station, Viola would say that that was how she wanted it to be. Even during her last months under hospice care at Rivercrest, Viola made many new friends and had a constant procession of visitors from near and far.
Viola is survived by her son, Fabian J. Fondriest and his wife Suzanne, and her three grandchildren, Fabian P., Natalie L and Leo A.
Family and friends will honor and remember Viola's life by gathering for calling hours in the Concord Funeral Home, Belknap & Thoreau Sts., Concord on Friday, January 22nd from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. Her funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, January 23rd at 11:00 am at Holy Family Parish, Concord Center, Concord. Interment will be private.
Gifts in her memory may be made to:
Regis High School
55 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028