By Albert Amateau
Dr. Anthony Formato, retired chief of rheumatology at St. Vincent’s Hospital and longtime Village resident, died May 13 at the hospital where he served for so many years. He was 80.
“He was a real hands-on doctor who made house calls and a very staunch Catholic he was a member of the Knights of Malta. He was devoted to the church, to the hospital and especially to his patients,” recalled Dr. Anthony Gagliardi, medical director of St. Vincent’s. “Tony was renowned for being forthright he never waffled. He was one of the first people dedicated to the care of older people because of his specialty in rheumatology,” Gagliardi said. Formato was director of the hospital’s rheumatology clinic when he retired at the end of 1995.
His sister, Teena Prata, recalled that he was musically talented as a child.
“He played the piano and when he was 6 he sang on the radio,” she said.
Born in the Bronx, the son of Amato and Mary Formato, he graduated from Bronx High School of Science and went to Fordham University for a year before being drafted into the Air Force in 1945. He took his degree at Fordham in 1949 after the Air Force and went to Downstate Medical College, graduating in 1953.
He interned at St. Vincent’s and met his wife, Mary Louise, the daughter of Dr. Oswaldo LaRotonda, former medical director at St. Vincent’s, in 1954 when she was a first-year intern and he was in his first year as a resident at St. Vincent’s. They were married in 1957. He and his wife were fishing enthusiasts.
During one of Mother Teresa’s visits to the U.S. in the 1980s, her physician called him in as a medical consultant to see the renowned Calcutta nun.
“He said she reminded him of our grandmother,” Prata recalled.
Drs. Anthony and Mary Louise Formato, a specialist in internal medicine, were honored together in 1995 as Distinguished Physicians by St. Vincent’s. He retired at the end of that year because of rheumatoid arthritis an ironic affliction for a physician whose specialty included the disease.
In addition to his wife and his sister, Teena Prata, another sister, Gloria Fidanzato, and a nephew, Dr. Michael Fidanzato, also survive. The funeral was at Our Lady of Guadalupe on May 17 and burial was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester. Redden’s Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.