Robin K. Ongaro, 53, of Duluth, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, while on vacation in Athens, Greece.
Robin was born April 5, 1959, in Duluth, the daughter of Roger and Arlene (Braaten) Schwartz. An enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, she was raised in Duluth and graduated from Central High School. Robin was a homemaker before going to work for the Lake Superior Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and later the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in Duluth. Robin then took a position with the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, where, while working full time and raising her son and daughter, she decided to return to school. Robin attended The College of St. Scholastica, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, graduating summa cum laude, which prepared her for a succession of leadership positions, including: president and CEO of the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Foundation, vice president of marketing and business development for Members Cooperative Credit Union in Duluth, executive director of the Grand Avenue Business Association in St. Paul and executive officer of the Arrowhead Builders Association in Duluth.
Robin also was a committed community leader, serving as a board member of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, the Human Development Center and the Bethany Crisis Nursery. She was active in the Duluth-Superior Eco Rotary, where she was captain of the club’s Dragon Boat team and spearheaded its recycling effort. She was an alum of the Blandin Community Leadership Program and its Leaders Partnering to End Poverty, which sponsored Pucks Against Poverty events. She also was active with the United Way and the Duluth Hall of Fame Committee.
While her professional and community work was important, family was the most important thing for Robin. On Sept. 26, 2009, Robin was joined in marriage to her soulmate, Frank M. Ongaro, in Duluth. She lived for her family, especially her grandchildren, and instilled in her children and grandchildren a love of learning, a passion for good books and inspiring music. She was an amazing mom, who loved her family and friends fiercely. Robin was a woman of great faith and was a principled, unwavering person. She was always there to fight for the underdog and stand up for the right cause, no matter what. She will be remembered as a motivator, always positive and always planning.
Robin is survived by her husband, Frank; two children, Hunter Hayes and Amy (Joe) Zontelli, both of Duluth; three stepchildren: Matthew Ongaro of San Diego, Sara (Scott) Korba of Rosemount, Minn., and Jessica Bergquist of Burnsville, Minn.; two grandchildren, Lily and Trey Zontelli; four step-grandchildren: Domanic, Cameron, Payton and Kailey; mother, Arlene McGinnis of Duluth; three sisters: Debbie Churchill of Duluth, Dorrie (Pat) Meyer of South Range, Wis., and Patty Parker of Duluth; several nephews and her best friend, Ann Glumac.
She was preceded in death by her nana and grandpa, Ida and Gunnar Arvidson; father, Roger Schwartz; and stepfather, Harold “Mac” McGinnis.
Funeral: A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth, with the Rev. Peter Muhich officiating.
Visitation: Will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday at the church.
Burial: Interment will be in the Park Hill Cemetery of Duluth.
Memorials: In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to Second Harvest Food Bank, 4503 Airpark Boulevard, Duluth, MN 55811.
Arrangements are with the Bell Brothers Funeral Home in Duluth. Please leave a memory of Robin or words of support at www.bellbrothersfuneralhome.com.