Obituary of Anthony James Calciano MD
Anthony James Calciano was born on Aug. 16, 1932 in Bristol, Connecticut – the eldest of five children of Salvatore Calciano and Florence LaLiberty Calciano. He died of cancer, aged 86, at home on March 14, 2019 surrounded by family.
Tony grew up in the Italian section of working-class east Bristol, where he attended public schools. Tony’s parents worked factory jobs their whole lives and money was scarce, but they were able to provide a college education for their children as a path to a better future. Tony always embraced his opportunities – he was the first in his Boy Scout troop to receive an Eagle Scout award – and handled hardships, too, such as picking tobacco in the summer from the age of 12. He most probably picked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., as both these young boys toiled at the same tobacco farm during the same period.
Tony’s love of chemistry caught the attention of John Reardon, his high-school chemistry teacher, who took him under his wing. He arranged for Tony to take a week of testing at Tufts University in Massachusetts, where he competed against more privileged children from all over New England. The experience changed Tony’s life’s trajectory, and he was shown a world beyond Bristol. During the week he spent with these other youths he was impressed with their knowledge and wanted to be knowledgeable like them. He did not do well on Tufts’ tests, so he realized that if he was to achieve his dream of going to college and becoming a doctor he would have to work very hard. Tufts’ teachers told him that he was not qualified to attend Tufts but explained what he needed to do to succeed. They told him he needed to read more books and read Time Magazine and the New York Times. After that summer, he studied very hard, and in his words, “became very compulsive” (in a good way) and became a straight “A” student. When he graduated from high school, Mr. Reardon told Tony that he would leave Bristol and life would be a lot different for him. And it was.
Tony was accepted to the University of Vermont, where he paid for the first year himself – a total of $1,100 – with his high school paper-route money. He also earned extra cash playing trombone in a jazz band at night clubs and weddings. Tony further saved money by completing his undergraduate degree in an accelerated three-year program of study – the last year of which was actually his first year of medical school at the University of Maryland. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1954, receiving his medical degree in 1957 – completing his three-year internal medicine internship and residency in 1960 in hospitals in New England including one at Tufts University.
In 1961, Tony completed his cardiovascular fellowship at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago under world-renowned physician Dr. Louis Katz. He also married Elizabeth Spedding, his first wife, moved to California and had three children. Completing his Fellowship in Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, he served as assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University from 1962-1979. But more important to Tony than all his qualifications was that he listened closely to his patients. He knew that the most important information he needed to know to treat his patients came from his patients and that test results supplemented that, not the other way around.
In 1962, Tony moved with his family to Santa Cruz, California, where he bought land and had modern redwood offices built on Paul Sweet Road. He was the first cardiologist in Santa Cruz, and his practice spanned more than 50 years, even though he was initially told that the town wasn’t big enough to support a full-time cardiologist. By the time he retired at the age of 82, he was one of a dozen or more practicing cardiologists in the Santa Cruz area.
In 1974 Tony was elected Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and in 1976 Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Tony traveled extensively, including to Italy and Mexico, and had many adventures with his children, family and friends.
A new chapter began in 1986 with Tony’s second wife, Linda Grodzinski Joy, Ph.D., blending Linda’s three children from a prior marriage with Tony’s three. They soon added three more – followed by many years of cross-country road trips, ski trips, sailing excursions, and golf trips to La Quinta in the California desert.
Tony and Linda co-founded the Jon E. Nadherny/Calciano Memorial Youth Symposium – formed to strengthen adolescent behavioral health resources in the Santa Cruz County community in honor of their beloved son, Jon, who died of suicide at the age of 23. For more than 20 years, the foundation has hosted an annual symposium to enable local families, educators and mental and medical health professionals in the community to hear renowned specialists in a wide range of topics ranging from suicide, bullying, substance abuse, gender identity, and ADHD. Tony was also a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, Italian Catholic Federation, and PGA West in La Quinta.
Tony was an active outdoorsman. He started skiing in his twenties and taught all his children to ski. He skied with his grandchildren into his late 70s and enjoyed playing tennis into his mid-60s. He was an avid sailor and fisherman and co-owned the sailboat “En Passant.” Playing golf in later life became his passion.
But none of the aforementioned captures the sense of fun, energy and inspiration that Tony embodied. Edith Wharton wrote: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Tony was the candle. He lived each decade of his life to the fullest – from the steadfast Eagle Scout of his youth in the 1940s, the determined college student in the 1950s, the hardworking, conservative doctor in the 1960s, the long-haired and bearded Santa Cruz doctor in the 1970s, the preppy family man in the 1980s and 1990s, and the beloved patriarch of a very large family in the 2000s.
Tony is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Linda J. Calciano; his children Andrew Calciano (Marilyn); Elizabeth Fagan (Tom); Anthony Calciano (Dawn); Joanne Hawkins (Derek); Joshua Nadherny (Leah); Alexander Calciano (Liliapua); Anastasia Calciano (William); and Nicholas Calciano (Cassandra); sisters Dolores Rulli of Naples, Florida, and Marianne Rode of Bristol, Connecticut; brothers James Calciano of Farmington, Connecticut; and Frank Calciano of Eugene, Oregon. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, and in 1995 by his son Jon Nadherny.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 210 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 from 10-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, 2019 – with burial following the funeral.
A Vigil and Recital of the Holy Rosary will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062.
To honor Tony, any kind acts of charity may be made to the Jon E. Nadherny/Calciano Memorial Youth Symposium, 1555 Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95065, or at supportdominican.org by pressing the Donation button. Under “Key Initiatives” please designate “Jon E. Nadherny-Calciano Crisis Support.” Individuals are able to leave a gift in memory of Tony at the bottom of the donation page under “Tribute.” For more information, please see http://calcianoyouthsymposium.org/.