ANTHONY J. SPADAFORE, DDS
Dr. James Caveney writes my father died when I was 17 and Tony later became like a surrogate father to me. He changed my dentition and ultimately my life. Because of his interest, motivation and care, I applied to orthodontics with encouragement from him. Later he took me to many Southern Orthodontic board meetings (with his patented unlit cigar) as a guest and started a young orthodontist in important leadership roles. He was always enthusiastic. "The level of sophistication of a society is measured by how you treat the handicapped." Tony spent a career helping on the Florence Crittenden Board, Wheeling Area Training Center for the handicapped and numerous church programs. Tony’s career will be remembered for his service to others.
Dr. Bill Grubler said Tony will be noted for the time spent in helping others. The trips to the Philippines to help the needy. His years of dedication to the State Board and the National Board of Dental Examiners. For his devotion to his 3 adopted children. His services and dedication to the Civitan and Serra Clubs. His guidance and help to dentists and orthodontists beginning their practices.
Dr. Bill Crawl notes Tony’s practice, service on the State Board and the North East Regional Board occupied a lot of time, but he also found time for a number of hobbies. Tony enjoyed playing golf on a fairly regular basis as well as woodworking, having built a number of pieces of furniture for himself and family members. However, his most active hobbies were flower and vegetable gardening and spending time baking and cooking in his kitchen. He enjoyed starting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and green beans from seeds in his basement before planting them in the garden along with other vegetables and herbs. Tony also loved to experiment with recipes in the kitchen, creating a variety of meals and baked goods. His friends and neighbors have missed his generosity in sharing his vegetables and baked goods.
Dr. Dan Joseph said I am a better person because of my relationship with Tony Spadafore. Tony was best friends with my late father and father-in-law. He was my friend, colleague, confidant, and mentor. As a leader in the profession of dentistry, he provided a moral compass for those around him. With a self-deprecating sense of humor, he could be the life of the part, but, if necessary, become solemn as a priest. I will miss hearing him say "your old man would be proud of you." Two words that best describe Tony Spadafore would be "he cared."
Dr. Jim Hadjis shared Tony was my friend, my mentor. Any personal problem, whether it was a health concern, financial advise or any other problem he was the one I called. When I married in 1965 he took movies of my wedding which my wife and I still treasure today. Tony Spadafore had many friends, I was lucky to be one of them. I miss him terribly.
Dr. Bernard J. Grubler. When Tony started his Orthodontic practice in Wheeling he and his lovely wife Nancy lived just a few blocks from Roe and I and on several occasions we went out socially together. Nancy was a special person. I don’t think Tony ever got over her death several years ago.
Tony and I shared many patients through our practicing careers and this sharing gave me a first hand look at his expertise. However, Tony and I grew very close to each other when we served five years together on the WV Board of Dental Examiners and 11 years as examiners with the North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners. In his years on the State Board Tony was truly the guiding force on the Board. I can’t recall a discussion or decision that did not have Tony’s valuable input. During a board meeting Tony would lean forward and say, Dr. President, YOU KNOW we need to - - - and out would come the solution we needed.
Socially the last several years a group of us shared dinner together once a week. My wife Roe and I, Tony and Eva Marie his faithful friend and companion, my brother and his wife, Dr. Jim Hadjis and his wife, a Wheeling physician, an undertaker and their wives and Dr. Dwight McConnnell’s widow Lee. Tony always kept us laughing with his stories and jokes. Athletically we played golf together weekly with more stories and jokes. It was a sad time when he had to give up golf for physical reasons. I have to confess since that happened golf just isn’t the fun it used to be. It was always fun to be around Tony. I probably had more fun, happier times, more relaxation with Tony than any other person in my adult life.
Serving on the board with Tony was a real "hoot". I did many licensing exams with Tony for NERB and this is where Tony and I really got close to each other. Giving licensing exams is a serious commitment, but somehow Tony made it relaxing and fun. After a day of board exams or a day of meetings with NERB Tony would say Bernie come up to the room and have a drink before we go out to dinner, as I walked in his room he would hand me a drink, pour himself a Scotch and water, put a fat cigar in his mouth, which he never lit, lean back in his chair and say YOU KNOW Bern - - - then the stories would pour forth.
I drove Tony most of the time to board meetings or the airport to fly to an exam site. One time driving to the airport I looked over and Tony had tilted his seat back he was chewing on that unlit cigar and he said YOU KNOW Bernie this is a good thing we are doing giving board exams to these kids. I’m sure you all can remember the times Tony addressed you with his famous YOU KNOW.
As attested to above by his colleagues, Tony was a great humanitarian, he was a giver. His support to his dental community, civic community and religious community was a great passion for him. Tony was loved and respected by all his colleagues in NERB a membership of close to six hundred and Tony was I’m being concretive when I say 90% of them knew Tony personally.
A testimony of love and support was shown when two past board members drove from Beckley to Wheeling and back home the same day just to say farewell dear friend at his wake. Like all of you, I recall many stories and memories about Tony, but in closing I would like to share the one that stands out the most. Tony and I were in Washington DC at the annual NERB meeting and on Sunday morning Tony and I went to mass together at a church on Capital Hill where President Kennedy always went to during his days in Washington. IN the middle of the mass there’s this loud cell phone ringing and ringing and Toy has this stern look on his face as he looks around to see where it was coming from. I thought Tony would die when I nudged him and said Tony turn your cell phone off. After mass Tony told me, Bernie, this is the first time I’ve worn this thing I don’t even know how to use it. His loving companion Eva gave it to him when he went to Washington she told him you ought to have this just to stay in touch.
Good times go on and on when you’re with Tony, outside of family, I have to say I thought of Tony as my best friend.
Getting over Tony’s death was very difficult for me. There were a lot of things those last three weeks that I just can share.
YOU KNOW - - - I know Tony’s in heaven with Nancy and I’m sure all of heaven knows the story of "Whoa Nellie." God Bless you Tony, we all love you.