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Doctor renowned for commitment to patients

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By Bob Stiles

Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Even late into the night, the light in Dr. Pascal Spino's office arced out onto South Maple Avenue in Greensburg, bringing hope and comfort to parents with a sick child.

He cared for his patients, anyone in need, regardless of the hour, his children remembered.

“I think my father had a great empathy and had that ability to place himself in the footsteps of a nervous parent or child,” son Pascal Spino remembered.

Pascal D. Spino, 91, of Greensburg, a man known to generations of Westmoreland County residents for his kindness and medical care, died Saturday, July 27, 2013.

Clement L. Pantalone Funeral Home Inc. in Greensburg is handling arrangements.

Dr. Spino, a pediatrician, practiced medicine for more than 60 years, retiring in 2008 because of age and health. He admitted at the time that the decision to hang up his stethoscope was one of his hardest.

He often put in an 18-hour day caring for his young patients. Their faces happily peered out from pictures he had on practically every wall in his office.

“They were all Dr. Spino's kids,” son Domenic Spino said. “He was committed to the people in Southwestern Pennsylvania. That was really the driving force behind my father — the community that embraced him.”

His father's “calm voice” showed parents and children “that there was a way out, that everything would be OK,” son Pascal Spino added.

Dr. Spino's accolades are numerous. He earned one of the nation's highest civilian honors, the Citizens Service Before Self Honor from the Medal of Honor Association, in 2011 “for a lifetime commitment to treating children, often not charging those who could not afford health care.”

Greensburg set aside a day in his honor in 2007.

He received the Westmoreland County Community College Humanitarian Award in 2001. He even was named “Fan of the Day” by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.

The list goes on and on.

“His faith and his upbringing gave him an affinity for people who maybe were experiencing hard times and needed him,” Domenic Spino said.

For a 2008 Tribune-Review story, Dr. Spino recalled that he so much wanted to be a doctor as a boy that when Harvard University officials came to his high school to test students for their career path, he answered in a way he believed would put him on the path to be a physician.

“Harvard came to give the results ... and they said, ‘Pascal, you're best suited to become a priest,' ” the doctor remembered, chuckling.

His desire to become a doctor was reinforced after he contracted tuberculosis as a teenager and spent time in a sanatorium, he remembered.

Dr. Spino served as a naval lieutenant during World War II. He met his wife, Aida, while both were serving on the medical ship the USS Hope, Domenic Spino said.

“Everybody knew the doctor ... but there were other aspects as well,” daughter Camille Tarr of Ligonier Borough said.

“He loved music,” she said. “He was excellent on the piano.”

He loved watching sports, becoming more and more animated as games went on, Tarr said. But he always felt compassion for the underdog, even in sporting contests, she added.

“I'm very proud of him,” Domenic Spino said. “I don't think my dad's death spells the end of Dr. Spino. There's a legacy that goes on.”

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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