Ten Minutes With Robert Rovezzi
a man of the community
photo by Ryan Lavine
Robert Rovezzi has spent much of his adult life in the place where he was born and has given much back to the community. The Torrington YMCA, the Connecticut Community Foundation, The Torrington Rotary Club, the United Way, Trinity Church, the Nutmeg Ballet, among many others, have all benefited from his desire to help and encourage community spirit.
Were your parents originally from this area?
My mother was born and raised in Litchfield. My parents were renting a house there when I was born. When it came time to move Torrington was as far away from her family as my mother would go. So I went to local schools until it was time for college and I went to Trinity College in Hartford.
What was your major in college?
I majored in English and theater arts, but wound up coming back to this area and working for my father who owned a large office supply company. I started in commercial sales and then ran the company with my brother. Eventually we sold it but I kept the contract for Steelcase furniture and I now work for them.
You married Luc Fondaire in 2009. How did the two of you meet?
We were introduced by local radio host Scott Haney. Luc was still living in Brussels, but once we decided to be together, we made a pact never to be apart more than a month at a time. So there was much flying back and forth. Adventurous and romantic at first, then it became exhausting and expensive.
How did you finally manage to be in the same place?
The federal government didn’t recognize our marriage, so in order for Luc to remain in this country he had to invest in a business. But it had to be a viable one, with American employees. So we bought a gym.
What made you decide that was the business to go into?
Well, it was for sale and we both like to work out and we belonged to a gym and knew something about exercise. Energy Fitness in Torrington was available so it seemed like a viable thing to do.
Has it been successful for you?
Amazingly so. We’ve stepped up the professionalism of the staff and added new equipment. It’s working very well; the demographic is pretty expansive, although it’s skewed toward the 20- to 30-age group. And it’s about a 50-50 blend of both genders.
You’ve also been involved in local theater, most recently as director.
I directed Avow by Bill C. Davis at the Warner Theatre a few months ago. It had been 35 years since I’d done any directing and I was apprehensive. You feel such a responsibility for the author’s work and sometimes it’s frustrating if it doesn’t come out the way you planned. I was pleased, though, with the response, but I don’t think I’ll do it again any time soon.
You’ve lived in this area most of your life—what makes it special for you?
Besides the beauty of it all, it’s the feeling of community. In times of crisis or grief you realize what a supportive and wonderful place this is.