Housatonic – Vera C. Forte, the matriarch of the Forte family, passed away May 13, 2020. She was 86 years old.
Vera was born on January 25, 1934 in Baltimore, Md. She was the youngest of five children born to Harrison and Elizabeth Alston. Mother Forte was the devoted wife of the late Pastor Joseph S. Forte Sr. Their union was celebrated for 53 years, until he was called home in 2015. Miss Vera was the proud mother of A. Vanessa, Cynthia, Jacqueline, Joseph Jr., Roberta, Joallen and Prudence. She also served as Spiritual Mother of many at the Macedonia Baptist Church and some in the community of Great Barrington.
Upon relocating to Housatonic, Mother Forte united with the Macedonia Baptist Church where she served under the leadership of her late husband. She and Pastor Forte served in ministry together for 35 years.
Mother Forte was a Spirit-filled and gifted vocalist who could be heard singing melodic gospel songs chosen from an eclectic array of artists and artistic styles. Not only was she instrumental in sharing her faith in Christ by serving as Choir Director but she allowed God to use her gifts in other ministries as well. Her signature testimony songs were “Giving Honor” and “Don’t Ever Stop Praying,” among others.
Mrs. Forte was also an active participant in Bible study, feeding the needy, fundraising through sale of dinners or gleaners. She assisted with planning and/or organizing annual day celebrations for different ministries within the church.
With regard to Vera’s education, she was a graduate of Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Md. She also earned certificates for studies in shorthand and accounting from Albany Business College (ABC) in Albany, N.Y., and Berkshire Community College (BCC).
Many relationships were developed through jobs and positions she held at the following facilities: Convalescent Center in Vernon, Conn.; Albany Medical Center, Whitney Young and Country Curtains.
She was also a business-minded woman and had success as a Tupperware and Amway representative. Mrs. Forte developed leadership skills through serving as a supervisor at Kolburne School until her retirement in 1990.
Miss Vera had a fun-filled childhood. She often reminisced about time spent with her youngest brother, cousins and friends. Her skills as a child were best displayed whenever she played Jacks and shot marbles.
She also loved to laugh. Music was rich in her soul. You may have heard her snap her fingers and dance to such artists as: Al Green, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
There were times you could have heard music played in the house or car by the Gaithers, piano instrumentals, hymns sung by Elvis Presley. and Christian artists in Jimmy Swaggerts’ music ministry. In the words of Aretha Franklin she would be “The Do Right Woman!”
Miss Vera enjoyed socializing. Many closest to her recalled playing Pinnacle, Spades, Solitaire and board games. Quality time with her children and grandchildren was of utmost importance to her. Often you could find two or more of her children or grandchildren lying in bed with Miss Vera watching television and/or movies. “You got in wherever you fit in.”
An expression of her love and devotion to you was demonstrated whenever she had occasions to bless family and others with gifts. Because of her “Sweet Tooth” kids and adults adored her during holidays when she gave out loads of candy.
Her other pastimes were learning how to crotchet, reading Danielle Steele novels, doing puzzles, and playing Skee Ball and electronic games like Atari, Tetris and Ms. Packman. She also participated in softball or kickball games.
Family members’ and friends’ sentiments regarding “Tina” were:
“When she was for you she was very loyal.”
She was tough and could fight, “Vera, didn’t play.”
“I wouldn’t let her drive me anywhere except down the street.”
She was “everybody’s” mama.
That lady was sharp, loved her hats and being dressed up.
Her passion was kids, “she loved kids!”
Mrs. Vera Forte was a member of the Faith Baptist Church, Baltimore, Md.; Craig Gospel Choir, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Hartford, Conn.; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Washington D.C.; Officer of Minister’s Wives, Minister’s Widows Inc. (MWMW, Inc.), Albany, N.Y., and Massachusetts chapters; Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Albany, N.Y., as well as First Lady, Choir Director, Macedonia Baptist Church, in Great Barrington.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents Herbert and Mary Alston; Rome and Missouri Watson; her parents Harrison and Elizabeth Alston; siblings Eunice Marie Boyce, Harry Stanley Alston and Raymond Leigh Alston; her husband Rev. Joseph S. Forte Sr.; daughters Cynthia Alston Harris, Roberta Forte and grandsons Tayvon Harris and Shavez Forte.
She leaves to cherish her memory her sister-in-law Bernadette Young (Eddie), sisters Marian Grinnage, Sheila Harrington, children: A. Vanessa LeGrande, Jacqueline D. Banks (Rev. Paul Sr.), Joseph Forte Jr. (Min. Mildred), Rev. Joallen E. Forte, Min. Prudence A. (Ricardo), Godchildren: Lois Evans, Sandra Forbes (Rev. Roland Forbes), grandchildren: Antoine (Heather); Darnell (Marcella); Tasha, Torrien; Dametrias, Paul, Jr., Jenna, Dionte, Jahmar, Dominic; LaShawne; Shaquita, Michael, Devon; Elijah (Pauline), and Jaziyah. Along with a host of adopted children & grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, her Macedonia Baptist Church Family and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and former co-workers and caregivers.
The door to Vera C. Forte’s home and heart was open to everyone.
SERVICE: A Home Going Celebration will be held on Friday, May 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm at Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home in Great Barrington. Burial will follow at Elmwood Cemetery in Great Barrington. A viewing will be held on Friday, May 22nd from 10:30 a.m. until the time of the service. (Everyone will be required to wear a mask and social distancing restrictions will apply).
Donations in memory of Mrs. Vera Forte may be made to The Macedonia Baptist Church through Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home, 426 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230. To send remembrances to her family go to www.finnertyandstevens.com .