Former Cape councilmember Dolores Bertolini remembered
The city of Cape Coral is mourning the loss and remembering the life of an impactful woman that served in countless roles to make the community a better place.
Dolores Bertolini, 89, passed away on Sept. 9. Bertolini was long-time Cape Coral resident after relocating from New York in 1986, and served as District 4 Councilmember from 2005 to 2009. As noted in her obituary, Bertolini was instrumental in bring EMS to Cape Coral, working closely with the Cape Coral Fire Department and always being present in the Emergency Operations Center during every storm. She was a participant and Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade, president of CLOUT, and member of the Republican Club, Sons of Italy, Relay for Life, and Civic Association.
“Our hearts are heavy as we bid farewell to former Councilmember Dolores Bertolini, a dedicated public servant who served the residents of Cape Coral for nearly four years on the City Council,” said Mayor John Gunter in a prepared statement. “Her passion, commitment, and unwavering dedication to our community were truly remarkable, and her memory will continue to inspire us all. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and loved ones during this difficult time. She will be dearly missed, but her contributions to Cape Coral will never be forgotten.”
Bertolini was also recognized was the 2004 Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral Citizen of the Year, and in 2018, was bestowed the “Distinguished Service Award,” a national Community Emergency Response Team honor for the everlasting impact she has made throughout the Cape Coral CERT chapter.
Bertolini was an important and impactful advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia, becoming a spokeswoman for the Alvin Dubin Center providing education and solace for those with the disease. She was also a twice cancer survivor.
“Dolores was very devoted to her city and its residents when she served on City Council,” said District 3 Councilmember Tom Hayden. “We talked constantly about the issues when I was a journalist and that’s when I got to know her well. After she served, she became involved with Alzheimer’s causes, something her husband suffered from. What always struck me about Dolores was her passion for life and wanting people to always do the right thing.”
Bertolini and her husband moved to Cape Coral in 1985 from New York. She and Aldo wanted to get involved in the community and learn about the city to which they had just moved.
They went to the fire department and heard about the potential for a CERT program that piqued their interest.
After a couple close calls with storms that could have done much more damage than they did, Bertolini and like-minded residents in the community got to work on how they could be better prepared for events like hurricanes.
In 1997, the Cape Coral CERT team was officially organized, the first of its kind in Southwest Florida, and would face its first major test in the form of Category 4 Hurricane Charley in 2004.
As a volunteer she helped people get off of the road during the storm and worked in the Emergency Operations Center, getting information out to different agencies across the city.
“Councilmember Bertolini had a passion for service. She trained in the EOC and no matter where or what type of disaster or storm, she was available,” said former city councilmember Gloria Tate. “Her heart was huge and she watched every dollar that Cape Coral spent. She was smart, intelligent, funny, and I will miss her dearly.”
Her involvement would drastically grow after Charley, as well as the rest of the community’s. Now, CERT is a well-oiled machine that it hyper-aware of what to do if impending storms are on their way.
A close friend of Bertolini’s, Linda Biondi, said she will miss her dear friend who was always there for others, no matter what.
“She was an amazing person,” Biondi said. “If you needed anything, she was there. Just a good person.”
Biondi met Bertolini through the Sons of Italy nearly 30 years ago, and their friendship grew through both of their investments in the community.
“We did Relay for Life and put purple bows downtown,” Biondi reminisced. “We hung banners. We walked for Alzheimer’s.
“She would give you advice, help you, and do all of these wonderful things.”
Biondi recalled Bertolini being there for her during her cancer diagnosis.
“She was so helpful to me when I had cancer,” Biondi said. “She came with me and Bob (Biondi’s husband) to the doctor because I knew she knew what they were talking about, and I didn’t.
“Holidays together. Events together. She was a really, really good friend.”
Biondi also remembers Bertolini helping a mutual friend whose father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“Dolores went an helped her and guided her on how to get the help, where to go — she would go and visit with her to make sure she was okay,” Biondi said. “That was Dolores. She would go out of her way to be helpful.
“She was a wonderful friend. She loved her family and she loved her city. She lived a beautiful life, and now she’s reunited with Aldo.”
Survivors include her son, Michael Bertolini; daughter, Linda Reilly; three grandchildren; and one great grandchild.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church on Sept. 18 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to the Dubin Center or Hope Hospice. A memorial can be viewed and condolences left at fullermetz.com.