Suncoast Hospice Volunteer Rudy Fontane

Suncoast Hospice volunteer and veteran Rudy Fontane

In recognition of National Military Appreciation Month this month, we thank our American Troops who have served, protected and died for our country.


It’s our honor to care for and meet the unique needs of our community’s veterans. We’re also honored to have many dedicated veterans volunteering throughout Empath Health. One standout Suncoast Hospice volunteer and veteran, Rudy Fontane, recently received a special honor – induction into The Chapel of the Four Chaplains based in Philadelphia.


The four chaplains were US Army chaplains of different faiths who banned together calming the dying and survivors the fateful night the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was hit and sunk in Newfoundland during World War II.


Lifelong Service


Rudy joined Suncoast Hospice in 2013. He volunteers with one of our care teams, Care Center Mid-Pinellas and Veterans Serving Veterans program.


Some of his many important acts of service have included presenting military appreciation certificates to veteran patients, interviewing veteran patients for the Veterans History Project, transporting patients to doctor appointments, respite visits allowing families to take breaks, transitions companion visits sitting with imminent patients, interpreting for staff, assisting at our Centenarian Birthday Party and speaking at volunteer trainings.


“Rudy’s a man of many talents. His open heart, willingness to help others and ongoing learning and growth make him a pleasure to work with,” shared his volunteer coordinator Traci Sutton.




Influenced by the times so entrenched in conflict and change, Rudy enlisted in the US Marine Corps serving from 1964-1968 with a  Vietnam War deployment. “It was a combination of things that made me want to get involved in the military – reading Ernest Hemingway, hearing President Kennedy’s inauguration speech and seeing many John Wayne movies,” Rudy said.


Following that, he served from 1972-1994 in a military intelligent unit in the US Army Reserves with an Operation Desert Shield deployment and retirement as a Sergeant First Class. He also earned a B.S. in criminal justice.


“In the military, I got to see a lot of different countries. I served with quite an interesting group of people who are still serving in a variety of ways,” he said.


Today, Rudy carries on a passion and duty of helping others through his volunteer work with Suncoast Hospice, Marine Corps League Department of Florida, Fisher House and other organizations. He cherishes supporting fellow veterans, sharing, “Most of the Suncoast Hospice service I do now is with the veterans. I think I’m paying back to veterans.”


Going back in time, he recently traveled to Camp Pendleton, CA and re-connected with Vietnam veterans at the Recon 50 – 50th commemorative reunion of Marine Corps recon forces and helicopter support crews who served in Vietnam. “It was an exceptional gathering that was well-appreciated. We got to reminisce.”


Ready to serve? Join us as an Empath Health volunteer. Come to an upcoming volunteer training.