Fontene (Foote) Kirkpatrick was born in Grove City, PA to parents Christ and Calliope Page, who both emigrated from Greece. At a childhood party, two cousins were deemed “Soot” and “Foot”, and that nickname stuck with her for life. "Foote" attended Northwestern University in Evanston IL, where she met piano prodigy and music major Haydn (Eddie) Higgins. They married in 1952.
Following Eddie’s military service in Puerto Rico, his musical career took off and the pair became well known in the burgeoning Chicago jazz scene. At home they entertained friends like Oscar Peterson, Wayne Shorter, Art Blakey, Carmen McRae, and other jazz luminaries. Their ten-year union produced two daughters, Shelley and Lela. After her divorce, Foote worked at The Embers on Walton, a popular steakhouse, but never lost touch with her roots in music. In 1967 she married restaurant impresario Russell Kirkpatrick. They resided together in Glenview IL. until his death in 1991.
Foote's career at Universal Recording Studio began in 1970. She rose swiftly to vice-president and general manager of a studio that exploded into one of the largest and busiest in the industry. That success was a testament to Foote’s dynamic personality and inexhaustible energy. For decades she was a celebrated, award-winning, and beloved figure in the advertising and music industry of Chicago. In 1996 she helped launch Mike Pendowski Music and worked for ten years alongside her closest confidante Dr. Michael Pendowski. In 2007, she moved to Chapel Hill to be closer to her oldest daughter Shelley.
Foote was also an enthusiastic gardener, a Civil War history buff, a collector of Early American antiques, a gourmet cook, and a fabulous entertainer. Despite her "big life" and many friends, she remained a devoted and loving mother and grandmother. Her bright light and generous spirit will remain in our hearts forever.
She will be greatly missed by her daughters Shelley Higgins of Carrboro NC, and Lela Damico of Yorktown Heights NY, her son-in-laws, Mel Freedman and Robert Damico, her four grandchildren, Zachary and Jonah Freedman and Sylvia and Melaina Packard, and long time companion Dr. Michael Pendowski.
A luncheon in celebration of Foote’s life will be held at the Seymour Senior Center in Chapel Hill on Saturday, September 28 between 11-2pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in the name of Fontene Kirkpatrick towards a memorial bench at the Chicago Botanical Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Il. 60022 or visit http://www. chicagobotanic.org/donate/ dedication_form.php