From the “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series from Kelly Grimaldi, Historian and Associate Director for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries’ “Stories of our Dearly Departed” is a series featuring stories and photographs of those who are buried within our 20 upstate NY cemeteries.
Our hope is that people will enjoy reading about the lives of our community members just as much as we enjoy learning about them from the families we serve and in the information we find throughout our archives. There are so many fascinating stories buried within these Sacred Grounds!
Renaissance era artist Michelangelo is known for suggesting the true measure of an artist is not in his ability to paint but rather in his ability to transform a block of stone into something beautiful. “Anyone can paint,” he said. While I disagree with the famous painter and sculptor in his assumption that anyone can paint well, I have to agree that there is a higher skill level required of an artist that can shape stone into a realistic looking detailed figure that has the power to evoke a myriad of emotions in the viewer. Vincent J. Forte, Sr. was such an artist. We pay homage to his memory and to his immense talent with a publication from his son Vincent J. Forte, Jr. that was originally published in These Sacred Grounds: Celebrating 150 Years of St. Agnes Cemetery. – Kelly Grimaldi
Vincent J. Forte, Sr. pictured with his first public sculpture, the Sacred Heart of Jesus on his father-in-law’s granite headstone (now located in Saint Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY). Commissioned in 1959 by his mother-in-law this was his first use of granite. Looking on is John Valente of Valente Memorials, Albany, NY who loaned space and tools at his business for the project.
Mr. Forte’s other public works include a 1996 bronze bust of World War I hero Sergeant Henry Johnson, which is in Albany’s Washington Park. It has become one of the city’s iconic sculptures. Also in bronze is a 1992 bust of Christopher Columbus located in the Italian-American Community Center of Albany. There is a different bronze bust of Henry Johnson sculpted by Mr. Forte and completed posthumously by his son Vincent Forte, Jr. that is in an Albany pocket park dedicated to Sergeant Johnson. At the time of his passing he was working on a commission for a marble bust of former President William Clinton.
Mr. Forte produced art skillfully in many mediums including granite, marble, limestone, wood, oil painting, water color, pastels, and pen and ink. He created music with the harmonica and tambourine, guitar, Hawaiian guitar, mandolin, and he loved to sing. Self-taught, he was never formally trained in art. His first artworks were completed before he entered kindergarten; Vincent used a straight pin to carve caricatures of prominent local people in school chalk brought home by his siblings.
Mr. Forte served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict as a communications specialist and received two field promotions for his knowledge and leadership. After the war he returned to Albany and worked as a civil and structural designer. Family was Mr. Forte’s most important passion followed by art. He and his wife, Michelina, raised four children who went on to become engineers, an educator, and a designer. Each has also displayed in their own way his artistic capabilities. A communicant of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception he was known for his openness, generosity, and ability to let each person who met him feel special.
He now rests in St. Agnes Community Mausoleum in Menands.
Vincent J. Forte, Sr’s story is one of many featured in our beautiful 160 page coffee table book “These Sacred Grounds: 150 Years of St. Agnes Cemetery” by Author and Historian Kelly Grimaldi; now on sale for only $35. Click here for book information.
Do you have a story of an ancestor and/or loved one buried in one of our cemeteries that would be interesting to highlight in our “Stories of our Dearly Departed” series?
We are looking for stories of those buried within the following 20 cemeteries:
St. Agnes, Menands • Most Holy Redeemer, Niskayuna • Holy Sepulchre, Rensselaer • Our Lady of Angels, Colonie • Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick’s in Watervliet • Our Lady Help of Christians and Calvary in Glenmont • St. Agnes, Cohoes • St. Patrick’s, Coeymans • St. Anthony’s, Glenville • St. Jean de Baptiste, St. John’s, and St. Mary’s in Troy • Sts. Cyril & Method and Holy Cross in Rotterdam • St. Joseph’s, Waterford • St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s in Schenectady • St. Mary’s, Coxsackie
If you have a story to share, contact Kelly at 518-350-7679 or [email protected].