Julio E. Vassalluzzo, 82, a family physician in Bucks County for more than three decades, died Friday, Oct. 30, of complications from advanced Parkinson’s disease at his home in Langhorne.
Known as “Dr. V” because his name was hard to say, he was a much-loved general practitioner, treating thousands of patients over a 31-year career. He often saw several generations of the same family in his office on Harmony Road in Levittown, and in retirement enjoyed chance meetings with patients at the grocery store.
“Julio’s infectious smile and warm countenance eased the fears of his patients,” his family said in a tribute.
Born in Jersey City, he grew up in Olney and graduated from Olney High School. He enrolled in Temple University for his undergraduate degree, but was accepted during his junior year as a student at Jefferson Medical College.
In 1963, he earned his medical degree and began an internship at Nazareth Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia.
Dr. Vassalluzzo was medical director of the Woods School in Langhorne, now Woods Services. The facility provides services to children with intellectual and developmental differences.
In 1969, he opened his medical practice in Levittown. He was a member of the American, Pennsylvania, and Bucks County Medical Societies, and served as the 1974 president of the latter.
The son of immigrants, Frank and Chiarina Vassalluzzo, he was fiercely patriotic. His focus was family, community, and country. He and his wife, Rosemarie Pellegrino Vassalluzzo, whom he married in 1962, were committed to making their community a better place to live.
“They were members of various boards of directors, sharing their time and talent, and raising funds for organizations that they were passionate about,” the family said.
They served on the board of St. Mary Medical Center Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to financially support and encourage new programs that enhance the quality of care at St. Mary. Later, he helped to create the hospital’s Healing Garden.
Blessed with a green thumb, Dr. Vassalluzzo pulled up the grass on his three-acre property and replaced it with moss, trees, and scads of plants.
“His gardens tumble and flow in entertaining harmony, one big bear hug of a landscape, with surprise and delight at every turn,” Inquirer staffer Virginia A. Smith wrote in 2007. “You’ll find tree peonies next to hostas next to clematis next to hellebores next to strawberries, so many colorful plants and trees that something interesting’s happening all year long.”
He used old metal washtubs as planters and cast-off sculptures as decoration. For plants, he turned to Produce Junction and end-of-season sales.
“I’m an equal-opportunity plantsman,” Dr. Vassalluzzo told Smith with a chuckle. “Whatever’s free or cheap.”
Dr. Vassalluzzo and his wife, both music lovers, were members of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra board of directors. They were also active members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and enjoyed playing many roles over 40 years of involvement in the society’s Philadelphia Flower Show, the family said.
They served on the Bucks County Community College Foundation board and helped to create the Tyler Tasting Party, a fund-raiser for the school.
During the summer, the couple played tennis at George School in Newtown. During the winter, they played indoor tennis at the Bucks County Racquet Club in Washington Crossing.
His wife died in 2001. He is survived by a son, Christopher; daughters Barbara Carpentier and Beth Tentilucci; seven grandchildren; a brother; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be held once the COVID-19 crisis has eased.
Donations may be made to St. Andrew Catholic Church, 81 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa. 18940, or the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 N. 20th St., 5th Floor, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103.