Dr. Anthony Wilfred Orlandella, M.D.
Aug 5, 1929 – Sept 28, 2020
Dr. Anthony Orlandella passed from this life on Monday, September 28th, 2020 surrounded by the immense love of his children and his devoted caregiver, Brenda. He is survived by seven children, twelve grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and more books than the library of congress. He is preceded in death by his four siblings, his sons Gregory and John Innocent, his grandchild baby, David, and his wife, Elinor. He leaves a legacy of profound love and connection in the hearts of his many friends and loved ones with whom he shared his everlasting love of travel, books, poetry, music, science, culture, history, and most of all, family.
Anthony was born in Boston in 1929, the youngest son of Italian immigrants. He was the first in his family to attend college. He graduated on the Dean’s List from Bates College in 1952, and Tufts University School of Medicine in 1956. In school as in life, his intellect was matched by an inexhaustible ad-libbing talent and a smile that lit up the room. During his internship and residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans he met nurse Elinor Rose, sent by the attending physician to lead him on rounds. He introduced himself with a comical pinch on the rear and a line from a popular tv show: “That’s-a my Rosa”. Balanced by her calm knowledge and grace, he knew immediately she was the one. They married February 22, 1958 and had their first three daughters, Anita, Loretta, and Elinor (Ellen), in New Orleans. Tony became an Air Force Captain in Louisiana in 1961, then moved the family to California where he established the Urology department at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and welcomed their first son, Mark, into the world in 1962.
In 1964, he went into private practice and moved the family to Laguna Beach where son David was born in 1965, followed by twins Judy and Greg in 1966. As resident urologist at South Coast Community Hospital, he served as Chief of Staff and became the most prominent surgeon of urology in Orange County for decades. He was on staff at San Clemente and Mission Hospitals as well, where his incredible medical talent was complimented by his gift for creating deep connections with people and his warm, humorous bedside manner. His patients and colleagues loved him throughout his long and celebrated career.
A passionate traveller and devoted father, Tony brought his family everywhere he went, from Central America to Europe to Africa, eager to share the experience and education of travel with his children. During a trip to Switzerland in 1972 with their seven children, Tony and Ellie were devastated by the loss of their unborn child, John Innocent. Moved by Elinor’s determination and the children’s grief, they tried for another child in baby John’s honor, and welcomed their last daughter, Christina, in 1973.
In 1970, Anthony and Elinor found a home in Dana Point, California, to fit their family that would become the hub of Orlandella life for the next fifty years. Built the same year he was born, the Spanish style home on the cliff above the harbor was his and the family’s favorite place in the world. It wasn’t the beauty of the home as much as his presence in it that made it heaven on earth, where all visitors feel welcome and truly at home. As his children and grandchildren grew up and married, having most of their ceremonies in his backyard, each daughter-in-law and son-in-law became family in his heart and home.
Family and medicine were the loves of his life, but he managed to keep a thriving interest in the world around him that was wide and deep and diverse. He accomplished this through his limitless love of books. The only time Anthony didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket was when he took a shower. His collection ranged from rare first editions to paperbacks on topics from science and philosophy to poetry, history, and classics, even an entire closet filled with National Geographics. His thirst for knowledge and connection was endless. He was a gifted storyteller, and could carry on a conversation about almost anything with almost anyone, and sometimes in a different language, with his understanding of Italian, Spanish, German, and French.
The happiest times of his life were when he was surrounded by his family who loved him dearly, and never was there a more wonderful era in his life than when his children finally made Anthony a grandfather. Francie, Tom, Rich, Morgan, Leah, Rachel, Brooke, Lexi, Jordan, Mia, Sophia, baby David and Eli; great-grandchildren Rayne, Rowan and baby Anthony. At the sound of these names his eyes would light up, his heart full, and so proud. His grandchildren gave him a rich life full of love and purpose. Even into his later years Papa Nono (Papa Nunu, Pa, Pops) had the energy to carry on his legacy of travel with this new generation of Orlandellas, taking trips with them to Italy, China, Spain, New York, and beyond, being a trusted confidant, a loyal ally; fatherly and grandfatherly love in its truest form.
Anthony and Elinor shared 59 years of marriage and countless memories. In 2000, a stroke left Elinor with limited abilities, and Anthony cared for her lovingly for seventeen great years. He was by her side holding her hand when she died, and he bravely comforted the family even through his profound grief. After her death, Anthony’s memory began to decline noticeably, and he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s a disease that took his mind but not his spirit or his love of Frank Sinatra and his poetry. He was loving and grateful to the very end.
After three years, seven months and ten days apart, Anthony and Elinor are together again, to reunite with their beloved son, Gregory, who was taken by cancer in 2015, and join John Innocent and their stillborn grandchild baby David in the eternal grace of God.
The family welcomes you to share your thoughts and memories about Anthony. In Lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.