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Antonio Napoli, or Tony as he was known by friends, was a fixture in Delaware Park. Tony was recognized by thousands who got to know him over the years as an avid runner and marathoner setting one remarkable record after another.
Born in Niagara Falls, Tony worked at Union Carbide for 41 years retiring as a foreman in 1984. During WWII he served as a bombardier in the Army Air Force. As a gifted athlete throughout his life he began running competitively at the age of 62. In 1986, at age 66, Tony won 5 gold medals at the Buffalo hosted Empire State Games. Two years later he ran the fastest 10K in the United States for a 68 year old at the National Masters 10K championship.
In 2001, his running career came to an end when his wife, Mary, died under the care of Hospice Buffalo after a 5 year battle with Alzheimer's disease. Tony was a devoted caregiver to Mary and her death shook him to the core. Overwhelmed with sadness, Tony barely left his house or saw his friends for several months.
Tony slowly emerged from his grief, returning to Delaware Park walking and saying hello to the many friends who had become part of his family over the years. One of his friends was Dr. Larry Jacobs, who encouraged Tony to start running again. Tony took Dr. Jacob's advice and, at the age of 81, competed in the Buffalo Marathon finishing the race with a time of 4 hours 32 minutes.
Tony's extraordinary life came to an end at the age of 87 after he suffered a series of debilitating strokes. His story is one of incredible self determination and physical endurance.
Through the ultimate act of generosity, Tony's legacy continues thanks to a gift in his will to the Hospice Foundation of Western New York. The nearly $500,000 bequest will be used to create the Mary and Antonio F. Napoli Endowment Fund, providing a fitting tribute to Tony and his beloved wife, Mary. The Napoli Endowment will support the work of the Palliative Care Institute providing financial support to assist the collaborative partnership between The Center for Hospice and Palliative Care and the University at Buffalo.
The Palliative Care Institute creates an all encompassing platform that integrates community resources, health care providers and academic institutions in collaborative partnerships to advance the field of palliative care medicine. The Institute's goal calls for establishing excellence in palliative care clinical practice, research and education.
Tony and Mary's enduring legacy will directly influence the future practice patterns of countless physicians, nurses, social works and other medial professionals through the educational opportunities provided through the Palliative Care Institute.