Former Top Garrahy and Pastore staffer Dante Giorgio Ionata dies at 85

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Dante Giorgio Ionata, 85, of North Providence died February 13, 2022. He was the son of the late John Ionata and the late Giulia (Pilla) Ionata.

He is a graduate of Classical High School and Brown University. He was an avid reader, a lover of the theater and the Philharmonic, and a lifelong student of the US government.

After graduating from Brown in 1959, he enlisted in the army. He attended Army Language School in Monterey, California, where he learned Cantonese. He served in Korea and Vietnam from 1960 to 1964, working with Army Intelligence.

He was a reporter for the Providence Journal and the Evening Bulletin from 1967 to 1973, specializing in inner city issues, public housing, urban renewal and marine fishing.

In 1973, he became press secretary and principal speechwriter to U.S. Senator John O. Pastore, for whom he worked until Senator Pastore’s term ended in 1976.

From 1977 to 1980, he served as Director of Capacity and Energy Management for Governor J. Joseph Garrahy of Rhode Island. From 1980, he served as Senior Policy Associate to the Governor. In 1984, he was appointed project manager at the Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corporation, where he was instrumental in establishing a recycling program for the state. He then served as a consultant for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.

He was vice president, president and later a director of the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association. After retiring in 2002, he focused on his hobbies: travel, his garden, running a vineyard in Hope Valley, RI, with longtime friends, and cooking. He was happiest in the kitchen, cooking for two or twenty. He loved his biannual fishing trips to Vermont. He loved being with his three daughters and three grandchildren.

He was married for 55 years to Angela (Bergantini) Ionata. They were both Rhode Islanders, both Italian Americans, both Democrats, and both NY Yankee fans. Together they raise their daughters and love to travel, work in the vineyard and host dinner parties.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Angela; three daughters, Victoria Green (Vincent) of Florida, Catherine Ionata (Fernando Salazar) of New Jersey and Laura Ionata of New York; three grandchildren, Dante and August Green and Liliana Eden Salazar; and a sister, Bernice (Ionata) Petracca of Providence. He was predeceased by his brother, John Ionata.

Visitation will be Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and funeral Friday 9:00 a.m. at Pontarelli-Marino Funeral Home, 971 Branch Ave, Providence followed by a Christian Burial Mass at 10:00 a.m. at St. Raymond Church, 1240 North Main St, Providence. Burial with military honors will follow at St. Ann’s Cemetery, Cranston. The family asks that you please wear a mask for all indoor services.

In lieu of flowers, please send a gift to Food for the Poor or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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