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William J. Vicic

Died: October 15, 2015

William J Vicic was born and raised in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland, and graduated from Euclid Senior High School. At Yale he majored in biology and was almost always on the Dean’s List. He was in the Freshman Glee Club and was active in Yale Banner Publications. He was coeditor of the Senior Classbook with Jeff McLaughlin and a member of the Class Council. His roommates in Branford were Jim McInerney and Jeff McLaughlin. He completed his medical training as an internist/hematologist at Case Western in Cleveland. He spent the heart and soul of his career at St. Vincent Hospital and Saint Francis Residences in Manhattan and devoted his time to the care of the homeless and destitute. Upon his retirement the Franciscan Province awarded him their highest honor, the Francis Medal, for his “witness to the spirit and values of St. Francis of Assisi.” He had an academic appointment at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Opera was a life-long love, and he served as a docent at the Metropolitan Opera. He passed away on October 15, 2015 and his life was celebrated in a Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Cleveland. He is survived by his sister Fran, nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, cousins, and a host of friends. His obituary appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on October 18, 2015.

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Fr. John M. Felice, O.F.M. remembers:

Bill worked for us for over 20 years serving the medical needs of the tenants at our three St. Francis Residences. Our Residences offer permanent housing with supportive services for almost 300 men and woman, all of whom suffer from long histories of homelessness and chronic mental illness. Bill was a critical part of caring for this fragile population. His gentle manor and genuine concern welcomed many of the tenants who would otherwise avoid medical care. Many of the tenants were often fearful of doctors because of their years of psychiatric hospitalizations. Bill was different, and they knew it. For those of us who worked with him his dedication, great sense of humor and gracious kindness meant a great deal to all. Upon his retirement our Franciscan Province awarded him our highest honor of the Francis Medal for his witness to the spirit and values of St. Francis of Assisi. We miss him still.

John McLaughlin remembers:

Bill was my best friend in college. We both arrived with an interest in going into medicine. His intense commitment helped to blow away my initial ambivalence. Bill’s brilliant calligraphic handwriting was a marvel to all, especially in his insightful class notes and lab manuals. We roomed together for junior and senior year. Possessed of a great sense of humor and quick wit, Bill was always game for verbal sparring and debate. He was utterly reliable as a friend and confidant. Sudden trips to New York City for opera, musicals and who knows what else were legendary to his friends. Bill discovered that Chemistry 29 (organic for majors) was likely to be much more interesting than Chem 33 (for pre-meds) and convinced me to join him. We were taught how to conceptualize organic chemistry by William vonEggers Doering instead of memorizing like all those other guys! Stimulating course work and entertaining dinners with Branford fellow and internationally famous immunologist, Byron Waksman, reinforced our career choices. We had both edited our high school yearbooks so working together as co-editors of the Senior Classbook seemed like a natural. We had fun leading the team of college representatives and others who did much of the work. Classmates who served on the Class Council may remember the huge debate that ensued over some of the changes (gasp!) that he and I proposed. Some flew and some crashed.

Returning to New York City after his medical training in Cleveland and a sojourn at the National Institutes of Health, he took up residence on West 67th St and never budged. He has 16 scientific publications listed in Medline, the most important of which are focused on solving the desperate needs of the homeless population of our country. Working in the Department of Community Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital, famed for care of the poor and ground zero for the HIV epidemic, Bill knew his subject in depth. A short remembrance by Father John Felice, founder of the St. Francis Residences, in Manhattan is reproduced above. My career kept me busy in Seattle. We kept in touch mostly with Christmas cards, although he was often enigmatic about details. In later years, I made insufficient attempts to catch up with him in person on various trips to New York. My loss.