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Plastic surgeon held a deep affinity for history

A memorial service was held on Nov. 9 for Ronald Taddeo, MD, of Willougby Hills, Ohio, who passed away Oct. 27 at age 85.

Dr. Taddeo, a past president of the Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons, earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1962 and served an internship and general surgery residencies at St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland. It was there he met a young nurse, Sandra Raffeth, with whom he would spend the rest of his life. He continued training plastic surgeons at Norfolk General Hospital and joined the staff at Lake Hospital Systems.

ASPS member Michael Wojtanowski, MD, also a past president of the Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons, notes that Dr. Taddeo was one of the first plastic surgeons in private practice to have his own outpatient surgery center and also helped Dr. Wojtanowski establish his own center.

"He was always helpful," Dr. Wojtanowski recalls. ""He was never threatened by other plastic surgeons in the area or younger plastic surgeons coming into practice, and it was a good lesson for me. His view was that we're all in the same business and if we work together, it benefits the whole specialty. I've always remembered that. He encouraged the golden rule with being kind to patients and others and told me that it always pays off in this business."

Dr. Taddeo was an avid historian and served for many years as the regional society's historian – "Nobody else wanted to do it, or could do it as well as he could," Dr. Wojtanowski laughs.

ASPS member Steven Bernard, MD, Cleveland, says Dr. Taddeo enjoyed sharing his love of history with others.

"He was a leader of the Allan Memorial Library of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland," Dr. Bernard notes. "He was responsible for the acquisition of an original copy of Gaspare Tagliacozzi's 1597 book, De Curtorum Chirurgia Per Insitionem ("On the Surgery of Mutilation by Grafting"). Contained within this book is perhaps the most famous illustration in plastic surgery. He was also able to acquire a pirated copy of the book from the 16th century – it was interesting to me that they pirated books back then, but also that the book sold well enough that it was illegally copied in the first place."

Dr. Bernard notes that Dr. Taddeo spoke at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons, detailing the history and provenance of the book and allowing members to handle and view the artifact.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Taddeo received numerous honors – including Lake Hospital's Physician of the Year. In addition to being published in several medical journals, he was a regular contributor to La Gazzetta Italiana, an Italian-American newspaper. Dr. Wojtanowski says he was struck by the diversity of attendees at the Nov. 9 service.

"It wasn't just older plastic surgeons – there were a lot of younger people there and that speaks to the respect that so many people had for him," he says. "Dr. Taddeo was very humble man and had an impact on so many of us. He will he missed by all whose lives he touched both personally and professionally."

Dr. Taddeo is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sandra J. (Raffeth) Taddeo; his children, Ronald M. (Stephanie) Taddeo, MD, Gina (Mark) Aliberti and Christy Taddeo; grandchildren Joseph and Angelina Alberti; siblings Pam Caputo and Albert Bodanza, and several nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lake County Blue Coats, P.O. Box 1211, Willoughby, OH 44096-1211, or the Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation, 37728 Euclid Ave., Willoughby, OH 44094.