Samuel F. Fortunato, age 84, of Little Silver, died on Wednesday.
In 1990, he was named New Jersey Insurance Commissioner by Gov. Jim Florio. It was during this time that he implemented the FAIR Automobile Insurance Reform Act of 1990. As Commissioner, he presided over the largest life insurer rehabilitation in history with the collapse of Mutual Benefit Life ensuring payment of benefits to thousands of policyholders.
Mr. Fortunato was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He was a graduate of Manual Training High School, Brooklyn. He was the first person in the family to attend college. Mr. Fortunato was a graduate of Columbia University, class of 1951, and a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, class of 1954, and a member of the New York and New Jersey bar. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for a time in Puerto Rico and received his honorable discharge.
Mr. Fortunato started working as an attorney in the legal department of Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in New York and was appointed a company officer in 1967, named Associate General Counsel. He was appointed head of the company property management unit and was responsible for choosing the location and the building of Met Life regional centers. In 1975, he was named Chief Executive Officer of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co. In 1986, Samuel retired and was engaged in the private practice of law in Little Silver.
In 1994, he co-founded CATEX, a reinsurance services company with offices in Princeton and London. He was an adviser to the company at the time of his death. Mr. Fortunato served as a Board member of Plymouth Rock Assurance Company and at the time of his death was chairman of the Audit Committee.
He was Chairman of MAECOM in Eatontown, and was responsible for ensuring licensing standards for hundreds of Monmouth County realtors. He was also a long time member of the Monmouth Beach Bath and Tennis Club. Samuel was a great friend of the Little Silver Public Library.
Mr. Fortunato was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann, in 2011. He is survived by his children Frank and wife Deanne, Lambertville, NJ, Michael and wife Lee Ann, Lutz, FL, Richard and wife Heba, Scotch Plains, Mary Ann Fortunato and husband Victor Bayers, Middletown; 5 grandchildren, Thomas, Christopher, William and Jason Fortunato and Ella Bayers; and 10 nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Monday, January 13th, 2-4 and 7-9 PM at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St., Red Bank. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 14th, 11:00 AM at Church of the Precious Blood, 72 Riverdale Ave., Monmouth Beach. Interment will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Middletown.