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Belli had 'heart full of love and generosity'

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 19, 2014 - 3:22 PM |

Mourners gather for late city councillor's funeral

Although always devoted to family, Fabio Belli had come to realize after a recent stroke how fortunate he was to “have so many wonderful gifts in the form of family and friends,” said his wife, Susan.

In turn, his family and friends also “became even more aware of how blessed we were to have Fabio in our lives,” she said during her eulogy at Belli's April 19 funeral, held at St. Andrew the Apostle Church.

The 37-year-old Ward 8 city councillor passed away suddenly April 12 while in Florida, where he'd travelled to meet his parents, Gianfranco and Franca Belli, to escort them home to Canada.

He and wife Susan have two young children, Emma and Brianna.

Belli was well known as as a local businessman — he owned Just Soccer, among other businesses — as well as the co-founder and director of the Sudbury Panhellenic Soccer Tournament.

Always passionate about sports, Belli was working on a multi-million-dollar domed sports facility for St. Charles College when he passed away.

In November, Belli had suffered a stroke, but had changed his lifestyle, losing more than 40 pounds.

The church was filled to capacity during the service, which was attended by many local politicians, including Belli's fellow city councillors, Mayor Marianne Matichuk, MP Glenn Thibeault and MPP Rick Bartolucci.

Susan said it brings her comfort that her husband touched so many people's lives.

She asked everyone present to tell her daughters stories about their daddy in the years ahead. “That will be what keeps his memory alive,” she said.

Many people have told her over the past week that they'd recently had lunch with Belli or received an email from him.

“People would ask me if Fabio got stressed out being on council,” she said. “I would always answer it seemed to have the opposite effect. It gave him energy and strength.”

Eliciting a laugh from the mourners, Susan told how her husband had accidentally failed to mention her during his wedding speech, something she always reminded him of at other weddings.

“He would roll his eyes, and he would take my hand and say 'I promise I will make it up to you at our 25th wedding anniversary,'” she said. “We'll never get that chance.”

Susan said her late husband made her a better person. “He made me not look at things so seriously,” she said. “He showed me how to reach a compromise and how to laugh more.”

City councillor Dave Kilgour said in his eulogy that while he got to know Belli around the council table, they didn't talk about politics that much.

He said he has a son about Belli's age, and his granddaughters are about the same age as Belli's daughters, so they often shared stories about family life.

“I recognized something in Fabio that was worth trying to get to know better,” Kilgour said. “There was a glint in his eyes, and that goofy smile that seemed to draw you in.”

It was difficult to go for a walk with Belli, because he was constantly stopping to talk to people, he said. “It would sometimes take 10 minutes to walk a single block,” he said.

In his homily, Rev. Fr. Sam D'Angelo said he chose the Bible readings shared at the funeral with Belli in mind. One of them, taken from the Gospel of Mark, says that “whomever wants to be great among you, must be your servant.”

Belli understood that “true greatness” isn't about seeking power, but “measured by how well we anticipate the needs of others,” he said.

“Fabio had a heart full of love and generosity — a true servant's heart,” he said. “Our presence here today is testimony to the fact that he touched all of our lives in a positive way.”
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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