Anthony E. Napoli, 67, of Cherry Hill, a well-known surgical podiatrist in Philadelphia, died of diabetes complications Thursday, June 10, at Virtua Marlton.
Dr. Napoli's career happened by chance. In 1963, his fiancee, Roberta Vellozzi, had foot surgery, and her doctors told her that podiatry was a growing field. She mentioned it to her future husband, who immediately started looking into it.
The couple married in 1964, and a few months later Dr. Napoli left his job at an insurance agency to study at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland.
In 1968, Dr. Napoli received his degree and moved back to Philadelphia to complete his one-year surgical residency at St. Luke's and Children's Medical Center.
He worked at St. Luke's, now the Girard Medical Center, until the mid-1980s. He then went to Kennedy Memorial Hospitals in South Jersey, where he worked for several years, including two years as chief of podiatric surgery.
Dr. Napoli had a private practice in Philadelphia for most of his career, while juggling many professional appointments as a professor and consultant.
He served as surgical consultant for Holmesburg Prison from 1978 to 1985, where he had a small clinic and checked prisoners' feet and treated any problems they had below the ankles, Roberta Napoli said.
When Dr. Napoli opened his private practice at Seventh Street and Erie Avenue, most of his patients were elderly Italians who didn't have much money.
"He was never one to go after people for money," his wife said.
His elderly patients would show up at Dr. Napoli's office with a large salami as a form of payment and gratitude.
Although the Napolis were Italian and enjoyed the cured meat, Dr. Napoli's wife had to push him to ask for some money.
"I said, 'Tony, we can't pay the bills with salami,' " she recalled.
Dr. Napoli was born and raised in Philadelphia and graduated from Bishop Neumann High School in 1959.
He received a degree in electronics technology in 1963 from Temple University. He and his wife moved to Cherry Hill shortly after they married.
After Dr. Napoli retired in 2002, he tried various hobbies - hunting and fishing in the winter and gardening in the summer.
He also collected coins and long guns.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Napoli is survived by daughters Lori Ann Laquitara and Amy Talley; three grandchildren; and a sister. His son, Matthew, died in 1993.
A funeral was held Monday, June 14.