Dr. Robert Paul Forte
Atlanta- Dr. Robert Paul Forte, 88, of Ridgewood, NJ, died peacefully on October 28, while surrounded by family. He was born in Revere, MA, on February 14, 1932, to Achille Forte and Julia Frangipane Forte. The oldest of three boys, Mr. Forte started working at the local drugstore when he was 11, played the trumpet, excelled at shortstop, and was a top student at Revere High School. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy before becoming one of 36 dental graduates in the inaugural class of the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry in 1960 (now Rutgers School of Dental Medicine).
In 1962, the now Dr. Forte began what would be a thriving 55-year dental practice in Ridgewood. Well-respected by his colleagues, he was a member of the New York Academy of Dentistry, the Fellowship of the International College of Dentists, and served as president of the Bergen County Dental Association and as editor of the Journal of the New Jersey Dental Association. In the office by 7 am, he treated generations of families and loved his patients; they were often a captive audience for his stories about golf, skiing, his travels to Italy, and later, his Vermont garden, or the recent adventures of his beloved grandchildren.
Early in his dental career, Dr. Forte began investing in real estate. He was self-taught, self-directed, and focused — abilities that he used in every aspect of his life — and over the years, his sideline turned into a substantial portfolio of almost a dozen residential, commercial, and professional buildings in northern New Jersey and Atlanta.
A competitive golfer who won many tournaments, Dr. Forte was a devoted student of the game. He was a member of the Hackensack Golf Club for over 40 years. Always an active participant, he ran many tournaments, was chairman of the golf committee, co-chairman of the rules and ethics committee, and a member of the board of trustees. He was a past president and a member emeritus of the New Jersey Seniors Golf Association, as well as a member of the Course Rating Committee of the Metropolitan Golf Association. In 2019, the Hackensack Golf Club renamed a senior member-guest tournament in his honor. He loved to play courses all over the country, and his grandchildren often joked that no matter where you drove with “Grampy,” he could find a golf course he played and an Italian restaurant within five miles. He relished his annual summer golf outings in Vermont with his close friends, and his many trips to Ireland and Scotland. Like golf, Dr. Forte took up skiing in his mid-30s. He and his family skied all over New England until choosing Wilmington, VT, as the place for a second home. They spent many winter weekends at the A-frame, skiing with other families and friends at Mount Snow and Haystack, and he took annual trips out West and to Europe.
In 1985, Dr. Forte, now a young grandfather, built a house on top of Hill Road in Wilmington and began to spend weekends year-round. In his early 60s, he decided to start a “little” garden on the side of the hill where a swing set used to be. With the hard work and collaboration of local Master Gardener Sieglinde Joyce and Vermont native Larry Kingman, what began as a small collection of flowering plants, and a modest goal to be included on the Wilmington Garden Tour, became what has now been called the fourth largest perennial garden in Vermont and a permanent spot on the Wilmington Garden Tour. Completely self-designed, he was honored when his garden was included in the prestigious national Garden Conservancy Open Days event in 2012. He described it in the tour catalog as “The North Forte is filled with classic perennials and shrubs, native Vermont bluestone walls, and striking architectural elements. Stroll the paths along the two waterfalls and koi ponds and continue over the garden bridge while viewing the Knot Garden. Continue through the garden gate to the roses and hydrangeas to the pergola and the Sculpture Garden.” His newest addition was the design and installation of a garden railroad, complete with lights and intricate replicas of local Wilmington landmarks along the tracks. Dr. Forte opened his home and garden annually to host fundraisers for local charities, including this past July, which raised funds for COVID relief in the Wilmington community.
Proud of his Italian heritage, he traveled to Italy more than 20 times, once on his own with four of his grandchildren, and the last time in 2013 with his four adult children. He was close to his children, a generous and attentive father, and he loved his daughter-in-law Kathy as if she were one of his own. Dr. Forte and his younger brother Bill were devoted to each other. Born just a year apart, they were loyal and loving brothers, inseparable for more than 87 years.
There was nothing that gave him more joy than his favorite role as “Grampy,” “The Gramps,” or “The Old Gramps.” He was thrilled to become a great-grandfather and joked that he had thought nothing could be better than grandchildren until he had great-grandchildren. Grampy called each of his nine grandchildren often and never missed a birthday or a chance to support them in their myriad pursuits. He was their biggest fan, and they knew he loved them unconditionally.
Generous in thought and deed, Dr. Forte was truly a self-made man. He leaves a legacy of a life well-lived and a profound love for his family and friends.
Dr. Forte was preceded in death in January by his wife Mary; his parents; his brother Richard; and his aunt Mary Lanzo. He is survived by his daughter Jeanne Marie; his sons Robert Paul, John Michael and wife Kathy, and David Christopher; his brother Bill and wife Peg; his grandchildren Diana, Caitlin, Charlie, Vanessa, Mircea, Jake, Ben, Sophie, and Will; his great-grandchildren Teddie, Ramona, George, and Margaux; his stepdaughters Kara Sweet Klose and husband Jim, Kim Sweet Bonney and husband Scott, and Allison Sweet Posternock and husband Dan; and his step-grandchildren Cory, Ian, Sawyer, Josh, and Mia. He is also survived by his business partner and first wife Diana Rossetti, nieces Mary and Julie, nephews Billy and Edward, several cousins, and many friends.
A virtual service will be held on Saturday, November 21, at 11 am. To attend, register for the service by Friday, November 20, at https://tinyurl.com/ForteMemorial. Memorial contributions may be made to The Rotary Club of the Deerfield Valley, PO Box 542, West Dover, VT 05356.