Dr. Vincent J. Fiocco Jr., a Carroll County internist who practiced for 50 years and was also a multiple instrument musician and railroad aficionado, died June 30 from complications of a fall at his Westminster home. He was 87.
“I started at Carroll County General in 1979 and Vince was a major player there and a prominent internist and heart specialist,” said Dr. Harry C. Knipp, a retired radiologist and longtime colleague and friend. “He was a prince of a guy and so smart and not in a showoff sort of way. He was modest, warm and friendly, and everyone loved him, both patients and staff.”
Vincent James Fiocco Jr., son of Dr. Vincent James Fiocco, a physician, and his wife, Helen Fiocco, a homemaker, was born and raised in New York City where he graduated from All Hallows High in the Bronx.
While in medical school, he met and fell in love with the former Mardi E. Norton, a nurse in the pediatric unit of what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“The story goes that he told her he was going to marry her on their first date,” wrote a son, Peter Fiocco, in a biographical profile of his father. The couple married in 1957 and went on to have and raise five children.
After graduating in 1954 from Columbia College, he earned his medical degree three years later from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and from 1957 to 1958, he completed an internship at Manhattan’s St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Dr. Fiocco Jr. served in the Air Force as a surgeon for the 20th Air Division and was a base hospital physician at the Air Force hospital in Grandview, Missouri, from 1958 to 1960 when he was discharged with the rank of captain.
He was at the Lahey Clinic in Boston from 1960 to 1961 where he was a fellow in medicine, which was followed by associate residencies at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston from 1961 to 1962, and at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center from 1962 to 1963.
In 1963, he moved to Westminster, where he established a private practice in internal medicine while also working at Carroll County General Hospital, which is now Carroll Hospital, in Westminster.
“It must have been strange, a boy from New York City moving to a dirt road surrounded by cornfields, dairy farms and horse pastures,” he son wrote.
He was chief of medicine at the hospital from 1969 to 1972, and then again from 1978 to 1980, and had been medical staff president from 1975 to 1977, and from 1988 to 1990.
“Early on, before the specialization in medicine we have today, doctors had to be well-versed in all aspects of medicine,” his son wrote. “The doctors at Carroll County General took turns covering the emergency room. They had to be prepared for everything and anything that came in the door.”
“Vince was always great when he made rounds even if he challenged you,” Dr. Knipp recalled. “He was very popular in cardiac rehab because he was always encouraging patients to keep up with their exercises.”
During his tenure, the number of beds at the hospital more than quadrupled, and the number of employees increased tenfold. In 1983, he was a co-founder of the cardiac rehabilitation program at the hospital, and for more than 25 years, was its director.
Known as the Carroll Medical Center Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, it has grown into one of the premier rehabilitation facilities in the state.
Sixteen-hour work days were not uncommon for Dr. Fiocco Jr., who was often called at midnight to the hospital, and when he returned home for a few hours sleep, readied himself for another 16-hour day.
“He was dedicated to his patients and spent considerable time with each one during office visits,” his son wrote. “He loved his patients and knew everything about them and their families.”
He continued the practice of making house calls to patient’s homes and nursing homes until 2013, when he retired at the age of 80.
Dr. Fiocco Jr. had been president from 1971 to 1972 of the Carroll County Medical Society and of the Carroll County Heart Association and served on the Blue Shield board from 1973 to 1981. He also had been appointed in 1978 to the Maryland Commission on Medical Discipline by acting Gov. Blair Lee III, and was a member of the Carroll County Medical Advisory Committee from 1992 to 2013.
At the time he was named the133rd president of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, Dr. Fiocco Jr. was the youngest person to hold that position.
In addition to medicine, another passion of Dr. Fiocco’s was music. When he was 5 years old he began playing the piano and then took formal lessons. While complaining about having to practice, for the next 82 years a day seldom went by when he didn’t play the piano, according to his son.
If he saw a piano in a hotel lobby or restaurant, he’d sit down and perform an impromptu concert. In the early 2000s, after his wife had an heirloom cello restored, he began taking cello lessons, and became so accomplished at playing it, he became a member of the Westminster Symphony Orchestra, playing well into his 80s.
For the last 15 years, Dr. Fiocco Jr. had a standing weekly date to play music with a nurse friend who played the violin and guitar, while he played cello and piano. At Christmas, they played in the Carroll Hospital cafeteria and had performed at several weddings.
After suffering a shoulder injury at 84, which somewhat limited his cello playing, he took his saxophone out of storage and began taking refresher lessons.
Dr. Fiocco Jr. was an avid sports fan who loved recalling when he was a kid taking the subway to the Polo Grounds to watch the New York Giants play, and going to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to see his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio. He was in the stands at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948, when Babe Ruth gave his farewell speech.
He had been a season-ticket holder to the Baltimore Colts and liked watching Ravens games.
He was a railroad fan since childhood when his parents gave him Lionel Standard Gauge electric trains. He became a student of railroads and had a particular fondness for steam locomotives and enjoyed riding the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad.
Dr. Fiocco Jr. also maintained his lifelong love of learning and sent away to Great Courses on Tape and studied art history, philosophy, literature, quantum mechanics, astronomy, string theory and meteorology while exercising on his treadmill every day.
His wife died in 2004 and six years ago, he married Marie Banter, a retired Baltimore County Public Schools teacher.
He was a communicant of St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Thursday July 8.
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two other sons, Vincent J. Fiocco III of Westminster, Dr. Michael Fiocco of Ellicott City; two daughters, Kate Fisher of Sykesville and Ann Fiocco of Baltimore; a sister, Jane O’Connor of Somers, New York; and nine grandchildren.
This article has been updated. A previous version misidentified when Dr. Vincent J. Fiocco Jr. was president of a medical society. He was the 133rd president of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.