City in shock as popular councillor dies in Florida of a heart attack
"On behalf of wife Sue, daughters Emma and Brianna and his family and friends, it is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Fabio Belli councillor of Ward 8 in the city of Greater Sudbury," Thibeault said in the statement. "Mr. Belli died while visiting his family in Florida.
Belli's health made headlines late last year when he suffered a stroke. Tweeting from his hospital bed in November, he said he expected to make a full recovery and was already missing city hall.
“I wish I was there,” Belli replied on Twitter. “I'll be back very soon.”
He returned in January, having made several healthy lifestyle changes and dropping 30 pounds. He said he was feeling great.
“You're young – this should not be happening,” Belli said his doctor told him about his stroke. “I (was) taking things for granted, but I knew I had to make changes in my life ... I had been overweight, not very active, and I had to make some changes – life changes.”
A statement from the city Saturday said details on funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Fabio Belli, Ward 8 councillor, who passed away suddenly," the statement said.
“On behalf of city council, I send my deepest condolences to Fabio’s wife, children, family and friends at this very difficult time,” Mayor Marianne Matichuk said in the statement. “Fabio’s passion and his determination to work for our community will be dearly missed.”
“As an organization and as individuals, we share the sorrow of Fabio’s family and send our most heartfelt sympathy to them,” said city CAO Doug Nadorozny.
On his Facebook page, Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino said he was devastated by the shocking news.
“We have lost a great man who was dedicated to his community and whose family meant the world to him,” Cimino wrote on his Facebook page. “Our condolences, prayers and thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time.
“I love you Fabio and you will never be forgotten. May you rest in peace.”
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis said Belli put his family first.
“His wife, Sue, and daughters meant the world to him,” Dupuis wrote on his Facebook page. “Having suffered a stroke a few months ago had really convinced him to get healthy so he could see his daughters grow up. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sue and their two beautiful daughters.”
Despite his health setbacks, Belli was the first incumbent on city council to file to run for reelection, and talked about how much he loved being a politician.
He was elected in Ward 8 in 2010, beating nine other candidates in the ward, which was left vacant after incumbent Ted Callaghan ran for mayor. Despite the crowded slate, Belli won with 1,991 votes, more than twice as many as the nearest challenger.
Born and raised in Sudbury, Belli was a businessman long before he entered politics. He was a graduate from St. Charles College and earned a diploma from Cambrian College in business management. He owned the sporting good store Just Soccer, as well as BMI Custom Apparel & Promotional Products and T-Zone Vibration.
In 2003, he was the winner of the Northern Ontario Business Association Young Entrepreneur Award. He also won the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award and was a member of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Caruso Club and Irish Heritage Club.
Always passionate about sports, he was working on a multi-million dollar domed sports facility for St. Charles College when he passed away. Tragically, after a few years of hard work, Belli was getting ready to announce next month funding was in place for the facility and construction would begin this spring.