Dr. Charles Vialotti, 99; Worked until 3 years ago


By Albert Amateau

Dr. Charles P. Vialotti, a beloved Village physician who retired three years ago after 70 years devoted to his neighborhood practice, died last week in a Saddle River, N.J., hospice after a brief illness at the age of 99.

On the eve of his retirement in February 2006, he told Lincoln Anderson, The Villager associate editor, who was working on an article about him, that he couldn’t take the time for another interview, saying, “I have eight patients in my waiting room. I’ll be here till 8 p.m.”

Known as a thorough doctor who took the time to listen carefully to his patients, his waiting room in his office at 290 Sixth Ave. was always full of Village residents, longshoremen, students, housewives and aspiring actors and actresses. His low fees were also a hallmark of his practice.

One of three children born on Carmine St. to immigrants from Genoa, Italy, he attended P.S. 95 on Clarkson St.

“In eighth grade I told my teacher I wanted to be a doctor. I worked in a pharmacy for four years,” he told Anderson.

He attended New York University as a premed student and went on to New York Medical School, then at Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospital at 105th St. He did his internship at a hospital in Trenton and his residency at a hospital in Yonkers.

In Trenton, he told Anderson, two police officers rushed up to him and hustled him off to a house with no lights or running water where he delivered a baby while the two cops shone flashlights so he could see what he was doing.

He recalled that in the late 1930s a sign was posted in the Trenton hospital that no one was allowed to use the new sulfa drugs. But when a secretary told him that she had puerperal sepsis — an infected pregnancy often fatal — he asked a friend working with the new drugs to instruct him in their use, and applied them to the pregnant woman, who recovered.

During his residency when he was working 20 hours a day, he collapsed on the job, and a doctor said he had fluid in the lungs and only a year to live. He finished the residency, took time off to draw — he had a talent for art — and decided after a year that he was not sick anymore.

He began his practice in the Village on W. 11th St. and then moved to 290 Sixth Ave. even before the building was completed. In 1941, he married Rose Blasco, whose family lived next to his family on Waverly Place.

Vialotti quickly earned a reputation as a doctor who made house calls to the top floor of six-story walk-ups. He developed a system to cut down on stair climbing when visiting patients by going up the stairs of one tenement building, proceeding to the roof and going across to another building and visiting patients on the way down.

“One day I had 19 house calls. There was a bad respiratory disease going around,” he told Anderson.

One day he made an emergency visit to a very ill couple on Carmine St. He found there were no obvious symptoms, but he suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. When the landlord’s wife told him her baby was sick, he called 911.

“We got everyone out. A few people had to be hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning,” he told Anderson.

In addition to a talent for drawing, he had a passion for fishing. He showed Anderson a photo in a Long Island newspaper of a 20-pound fish he caught in 1995.

His wife, Rose, survives as well as his son, Dr. Charles Vialotti, Jr., a radiology specialist in Teaneck. A daughter, who acted on Broadway under the name of Lynn Harper, died at the age of 54 a few years ago.

Funeral services were private, and burial was in a family mausoleum in Southampton, L.I. Donations in honor of Dr. Charles Vialotti may be made to Villa Marie Claire Hospice, 12 W. Saddle River Rd., Saddle River, N.J.