John N. Giacobbo, 84, of South Philadelphia, a pediatrician whose young patients took kindly to his care, died Wednesday, May 29, of liver cancer at his daughter’s home in Moorestown.
Born at Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia, Dr. Giacobbo dedicated much of his life to serving the community through medical work at that facility.
In 1963, he opened a pediatric practice at Methodist, which he operated for more than three decades. During those years, he also held the title of chief of pediatrics and neonatology, vice president of medical affairs, and director of medical education.
After leaving his hometown in the 1990s, he moved to Sewell, where he practiced and taught at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Family and co-workers spoke of Dr. Giacobbo’s care for his patients.
“He just loved the kids,” said Jessica Willits, a receptionist who worked with Dr. Giaccobo at UMDNJ. “Nobody was scared of him; they loved him. He was like all the kids’ grandfather.”
Dr. Giacobbo was the son of Frank and Jean Giacobbo and spent his childhood in Philadelphia, where he attended St. Joseph’s Prep. After graduating from the Jesuit high school in 1952, he moved on to St. Joseph’s College and later to Jefferson Medical College, from which he graduated in 1960.
He married Helen Cassel in 1960. The couple had four children, all — like him — born at Methodist. The couple divorced in 1992. As his children grew older and had families of their own, Dr. Giacobbo offered pediatric care to his grandchildren.
“He was compassionate and loving,” said son John. “I could always go to my father, and he could give me guidance.” He said his father often emphasized one key lesson: judge people by their character, not the size of their wallets.
In 1997, he married Jane Sprows-Ward, who had worked with him at Methodist, where he was her children’s pediatrician. The couple lived in Sewell.
Dr. Giacobbo enjoyed fishing, carpentry, and the Flyers. After his retirement in 2013, he made trips to Borgata Casino with a group of friends.
He enjoyed spending time with his family, even after he fell ill. “The last two words that he spoke were ‘Thank you’ to us, his four children,” said son Kenneth, adding that he believed those words “said a lot” about his father’s character.
In addition to his wife, sons, and former wife, Dr. Giacobbo is survived by son David; daughter Diane; stepson EJ; 12 grandchildren; 10 step-grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services were Monday, June 3.
Contributions be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tenn. 38105.