Dr. Arthur Charles Crovatto died peacefully of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in York, Pa., on Friday, Oct. 4 in the company of his beloved wife, Janet, and his four children. He was 85.
Dr. Crovatto was a great and good man. He was a happy man who loved five things above all: his family, the practice of medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, Martha’s Vineyard and a good meal.
His family reciprocated with the unconditional love of Janet, his wife of 58 years; his four children, Jane Spencer of New York city, Anne Bolton of St. Davids, Pa., James Crovatto of Glen Ellyn, Ill., and Christopher Crovatto of New Canaan, Conn.; and his nine grandchildren, CJ and Lexi Crovatto, Will Spencer, Annie and Emma Bolton, and James, Nick, Lucia and Christian Crovatto.
Medicine reciprocated with the excellence of the York hospital and the profound satisfaction of lives saved and enhanced.
Yale reciprocated with its Peter Parker Dean’s Medal for outstanding contributions to medicine and the well-being of the medical school; the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, its highest alumni honor, for “his tireless energy and dedication to Yale School of Medicine”; and (most important to Dr. Crovatto) a generation of Yale doctors that he taught and inspired.
Martha’s Vineyard and good meals reciprocated in joy, relaxation and good health.
Dr. Crovatto was born Oct. 8, 1927 in Union City, N.J. His parents, Arthur and Carrie Crovatto, were first generation Italian-Americans. They instilled in him a love of learning, a drive to excel and a fierce belief in the American dream for himself and all others. He grew up with his little brother and great friend, Richard. Their home was also home to Dr. Crovatto’s beloved and preposterously joyous Aunt Frieda, who passed on to him her exuberant love of food and life.
He attended Robert Waters primary school in Union City. He was a standout student at Emerson High School, where he was elected president of his senior class and to the Deutsche Verein and the National Honor Society. Outside the classroom he was a Master Councilor of DeMolay and active in Junior Achievement. There are rumors that he was also perhaps a bit mischievous.
He began college at Columbia College in New York city, where he was a sports reporter and assistant editor for the Daily Spectator, played basketball and was a dance chairman. He was in Times Square for the spontaneous VJ Day celebration.
The Selective Service Administration interrupted his college career. He served his country as a dental technician in the United States Army. He was grateful to the Army for the opportunity to see a world beyond greater New York, spending time in Missouri, Indiana, California, The Philippines and Okinawa. In Okinawa he was in charge of the dental clinic and organized a basketball league.
After his discharge, he returned to Columbia, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. During his third year, he had his “most important life-changing event”: A medical student who later became a close friend toured Dr. Crovatto around the medical school at Yale and explained its distinctive system. Dr. Crovatto was offered admission in an interview at the medical school and accepted on the spot.
It was a kind of destiny; the place had met its man. For the rest of his life, he bled Yale Med blue.
He concentrated on surgery and pediatrics. In his first year, he co-chaired the Aesculapian Frolics. He waited tables at Nick’s in New Haven for his meals and served as a dormitory proctor. During breaks he worked at construction and at Walter Reed Army Hospital, and traveled as a Pfizer detail man.
He graduated from the School of Medicine in 1954. And he met the love of his life, a Yale nursing student from Pennsylvania, Janet Herrold. They married in York and returned to New Haven to continue his training.
He interned at Grace-New Haven (now Yale-New Haven) Hospital in surgery, and had residencies in surgery and urology at Grace-New Haven. He taught urology at Yale School of Medicine in the last year of his residency. He and Janet lived in New Haven, where his two daughters, Jane and Anne, were born. They were, he said, poor but happy.
In 1961, the family moved to York, where his two sons, James and Christopher, were born.
He began a solo urology practice, which grew to a three-doctor partnership, then a five-doctor practice. He was board certified in urology.
He had a long and professionally satisfying association with York Hospital. He was vice president and president of the medical staff. He was chief of the departments of Urology and Surgery. He founded the Patient Care Evaluation Committee at the hospital — long before such peer reviews were common. He served on over a dozen of the hospital’s most important committees.
His list of professional honors is far too long to set out in detail. He was president of the York County Medical Society; the society frequently elected him to represent it at the state medical society. He was a diplomate to the National Board of Medical Examiners and to the American Board of Urology. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the Connecticut State Medical Society, the New Haven County Medical Association and the Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Urological Association.
One of his proudest achievements was founding the York County Medical Society Scholarship Fund, which provides aid for York County residents. He was chairman of its scholarship committee for 29 years. He also found time to serve as president of the Violet Hill School PTA.
He first went to Martha’s Vineyard while in medical school, and immediately fell in love. For many years he spent a two-week vacation on the Island. When his children were old enough to enjoy the whole summer there, he bought a house. It was close enough to town that he could walk to the bakery to get croissants in the morning. The house was a merry-go-round of his children and grandchildren, some here one week, some the next, others the next, but always a riot of happy noise and good food. One week each summer, all his children and grandchildren would descend upon the place, sleeping in the beds, in the loft, on the couches and on the floor; grilling swordfish, steaks and burgers; steaming lobsters, searing scallops and slurping clams and oysters; crabbing, fishing, sailing, swimming, playing tennis and exploring the Island’s beaches.
He retired from medical practice in 1989. To no one’s surprise, he could not stay retired. Janet may have married him for better or for worse, he said, but she didn’t marry him for lunch. Golf lessons were good, but his game wasn’t. Yale came to his rescue. Once again, it changed his life. It was a kind of destiny. The place met its man.
The Yale School of Medicine appointed him its director of alumni affairs. He was zealous for the school. He organized intellectually stimulating reunions and seminars for alumni, communicated his enthusiasm to them and met tirelessly with them to promote the school.
But that was just the beginning. The School of Medicine appointed Dr. Crovatto to the faculty as a lecturer in anatomy. He was universally beloved by his students, who honored him by repeatedly penning (and singing) songs about him for the annual school revue. He was revitalized. Never has a teacher gained so much from his students. If one should find oneself in a hospital with a Yale alumnus on staff, one need only mention that one is a friend of Dr. Crovatto.
He retired from Yale in 2002 and returned to York.
He was a member of the executive board of the Association of Yale Alumni in Medicine. He served as secretary for his medical school class for the past 15 years, famous for greeting every member of the class with a letter from the class (and from himself) on the member’s birthday.
He was a member of Rotary Club of York, the Country Club of York and the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club. He was a member of the Zeredatha Lodge No. 451, Free and Accepted Masons.
Dr. Crovatto is survived by his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his brother, sister in law Phyllis, and his two nephews, Arthur and Steven. He was like a father to his four sons and daughters in law, David Spencer, James Bolton, Elizabeth Crovatto and Ellen Crovatto. He was preceded in death by his parents and his beloved Aunt Frieda.
Visitation with the family will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Etzweiler Funeral Home, 1111 East Market dtreet, York. There will be no viewing. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the First Presbyterian Church of York, 225 East Market Street, York with the Rev. Guy W. Dunham officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Class of 1954 Scholarship Fund, c/o Yale School of Medicine, Office of Alumni Affairs, P.O. Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519-0611.