ARTHUR “ART” FORTIS
Athlete, US Army veteran, storyteller, coach, and maniac on the dance floor, Arthur “Art” Fortis—who cherished his family above all—passed away peacefully at his home in Dixon, CA, on Saturday, August 21, 2021, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 76.
Anyone who knew Art was aware of his crazy, uninhibited dance style. A combination of funk-legend James Brown and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris shaking a linebacker in the hole, he would shake and twist on the dance floor with sweat dripping off his forehead and big grin plastered on his face. If the song Rockin Robin was played, nothing could hold him back. Not only was Art the life of the party, but he was also bigger than life.
Born August 20, 1945, in Woodland, CA, Arthur was raised a Catholic. Like all kids, he had a mischievous streak. When his mom, Hope Fortis, would go to scold him, he would race away. Although she was fast, he was faster. The speed he used to evade his mom evolved at Woodland High School, where he excelled in sports. He was a star football player in the tailback position, despite getting knocked out cold and losing his front teeth in a game. He remembered waking up and wondering why his parents and coach were standing over him.
In 1964, he won the prestigious JC Horn Award for best Woodland High School track athlete. If a guest at his home brought up the subject of high school football, Art, never hesitant to brag about himself, would break out his scrapbook of news clippings heralding his exploits on the field.
Shortly after graduating from Woodland High, he was drafted and served in the Army Artillery Barge Division in the Vietnam Delta during the war. He enjoyed serving his country and relished telling stories about his experiences.
Upon coming home from Vietnam, his dad, Pete Fortis, bought him a 1968 Fastback Mustang 390 as a gift for returning safely and for work he did on the Fortis ranch. Ecstatic, Art, who prized fast cars, had a need for speed, both as a runner and a driver. Later, much to the disappointment of his son Gino, he sold the Mustang during the 1970’s gas crisis.
Once home, Art also found the love of his life, literally the girl next door. Linda lived on the cattle ranch neighboring his dad’s farm. On November 22, 1969, the couple married, and Linda became Art’s travel companion, dance partner, mother of his two children, and wife of 51 years.
Moving to Dixon, they enjoyed countless trips and adventures, traveling to Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica. To no one’s surprise, Art and Linda were also the last ones on the dance floor at any event. Where Art was fun-loving, boisterous and an extravert, Linda—the yin to his yang—was gentle, sweet, and soft-spoken.
Art supported his family by working in agriculture and operating heavy equipment. He boasted that he could figure out and manage any piece of equipment set in front of him. Loved and respected by the people who worked under him, he was equally appreciated by his supervisors, even though he never hesitated to tell them what he thought—whether they wanted to hear it or not.
The Fortis children, Gino, born in 1974, and Tasha, born in 1976, were the lights of Art’s life. He coached their teams and challenged them to sprints after soccer practice. He supported his kids in all their endeavors, making sure he got off work early so he wouldn’t miss a game. He pitched in to help with their projects, whether building a mission for school or pinewood derby cars for Cub Scouts. At Christmas, he would hide money in one of their gifts, and the kids would go nuts trying to find it.
When Gino opened a tax and financial company as an adult, Art passed out his son’s business cards as if promoting a Vegas act. His love for his kids carried over to his grandchildren, Gabriella and Ava. He bought an extra-wide recliner to accommodate all, the grandkids thrilled to share Papa’s chair with him. Art and Linda also traveled to Chico, CA to watch their grandkids’ events, just as they had with their own children.
One of Art’s joys was telling stories about his experiences in Vietnam, on the football field, or about his kids. Some were great, and some were so-so. But even the middling stories put a smile on your face. When he laughed, you couldn’t help but laugh along with him. Even in his last weeks, when his kidney disease and dementia were taking a toll on his health, he still relished telling stories. True, they didn’t make much sense, but the family still loved to laugh with him.
Preceded in death by his adoptive father Pete Fortis and his biological father Daniel Saragoza, Art is survived by wife Linda Fortis, son Gino Fortis (Ninoska), daughter Tasha Troub (Daniel), grandchildren Gabriella and Ava, mother Hope Fortis, brothers Carlos Fortis and Tom Fortis, Saragoza siblings Christine Ponce, Gloria Salinas, Mario Saragoza, Josie Rodriguez, Art Saragoza, Irene Hayes, and Richard Saragoza.
A viewing for Art Fortis is planned at Milton Carpenter Funeral Home, on Sunday, September 12th, from 12 – 3pm; Rosary from 2 – 3pm. A mass will be held at 11am, on Monday, September 13th, 2021, at St. Peter Catholic Church, 105 South 2nd Street, Dixon, CA 95620. An outdoor reception will follow at Ruhstaller Farm and Brewery, 6686 Sievers Rd., Dixon. Burial on Tuesday, September 14th at 10:30am at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, Midway Rd., Dixon.
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