It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Alberta “Berta” Fournier of Westfield. She died at Western Massachusetts Hospital on January 18, 2021, at the age of 89 and after a long battle with dementia. She was born Alberta Fernandez Mendez on November 26, 1931 in the tiny village of Tapia de Casariego, Asturias, Spain, the oldest of seven children, the daughter of a fisherman and his wife. Due to the economic conditions of the time Berta was forced to leave school at the age of thirteen so she could work at a fish cannery to help support the family. Yet with a zest for living and a desire to see the world, she found work in her mid-teens as a nanny and maid with a summer family and moved with them to the big city of Madrid. Then at the age of eighteen she had the opportunity to travel with the Spanish diplomat’s family to “America”, which was her big dream, and she settled with them in Washington, DC. She later worked for several embassies and met and worked with many young people from around the world. On April Fool’s Day in 1955 she met a handsome young soldier who was stationed at Arlington Cemetery. It was a whirlwind romance and they married on November 17th that same year. When Bob left the military they relocated to his hometown of Westfield, Massachusetts where Berta became well known in the restaurant business in town. Over the years she worked at Tonelli’s, The Hillbrook House, The Foster House, Points East, and then Westwood.
Those who were close to her know that all her tip money went into a glass peanut butter jar in the bottom of her closet. Her love of travel was a lifelong passion and those precious funds were used over the years to pay for family trips around the United States, to Europe, to South America, and to Mexico and the Caribbean islands. She enjoyed going on cruises with friends and family. The sound of the sea was part of who she was and that meant vacations almost always involved a beach destination. Those who knew and loved Berta will remember her as a tiny lady with a big outgoing personality, and that she had an incredible ability to tell a great story. She was able to make even the most common situations memorable for those who were blessed by her presence. She was extremely proud of all she accomplished in life, of her beautiful home and her carefully tended yard that was full of flowers. She loved to entertain and her house was always a gathering place for family and friends. Berta was pre-deceased by her husband, Robert Fournier, in 1993, by her parents Baldomero and Benigna, and by three brothers - Juan and Baldomero of Spain and Benigno of Belgium. She is survived by a daughter, Lynne Hannifan (Edward) of Centennial, Colorado and a son, Gregory Fournier (Loretta Stober) of Huntington, Massachusetts. She will be sadly missed by four granddaughters who were the loves of her life – Kristina Graham (Alan) of Castle Rock, Colorado, Katie Hagerty (Ryan) of Parker, Colorado, Kelly Hannifan Johnson (Ryan) of Eudora, Kansas, and Karissa Fournier of Hinsdale, Massachusetts. She leaves eight great-grandchildren who will be reminded often of her legacy – Ashlyn Alberta Johnson, Kaya Graham, Wyatt Johnson, Paisley Johnson, Kenna Graham, Rekker Johnson, Colette Hagerty and Liliana Hagerty. She will be missed by three sisters – Candida Fernandez of Washington, DC and Adelaida “Lala” and Maria del Carmen “Macallita”, both of Spain. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, including two that spent their childhood summers with her and held a special place in her heart – Alfredo Pulupa of Washington, DC and Maria Sithens of Kensington, Maryland.
Funeral services will be private. A celebration of Berta’s life will be scheduled for early in the summer.
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