Dr. Anthony Alain Caputi, 88, of Newport, RI, a local general dentistry professional for nearly fifty years, passed away on Monday, April 23, in Newport Hospital during the quiet peace of the wee hours.
Known as Doc, or Tony the Tooth, to many in his wide, intergenerational circle of friends, he was born in Newport, or as he called it “God’s Country”. Doc was a first generation American and the only child born to Giacinto (Jimmy) and Isabelle (Alain) Caputi, both post World War I immigrants to America. In spirit, Doc was mostly a true Newporter through and through.
Anthony graduated from Rogers High School in 1947 and later attended Providence College while ultimately earning his BA from the University of Vermont. Doc was a graduate of the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore, MD, the oldest dental school in the country. To help pay for dental school, he served on an ambulance crew where, on numerous occasions, he would assist in en route to the hospital births of inner city babies, which wasn’t exactly dentistry. After dental school, he joined the Army as a captain and further honed his exceptional professional skills for two years in the Armed Forces before returning to Newport to establish his general dentistry practice that enjoyed the loyalty of patients spanning multiple generations from the local area for almost a half century.
The Caputi family is often humbled by the generous and kind sentiments expressed to them by former patients of Dr. Caputi’s regarding his exemplary technical skills, his chair side manner and sense of humor, and, most importantly to him, the warm relationships he established with his patients. Doc’s patients were very important to him, and his success as a professional is greatly owed to the partnership with his loyal and indispensable assistant of 38 years, Carol Pascoe. They were a complementary team that worked well together and patients enjoyed their special bond of friendship and playful senses of humor.
Dr. Caputi was awarded fellowships in the American College of Dentists as well as the International College of Dentists. He also served as the President of the Rhode Island Dental Association and later as President of Delta Dental of Rhode Island. Dr. Caputi was humbled to receive a citation from the Rhode Island legislature for his contributions to the people of Rhode Island and the dental profession. At various times during his career, Dr. Caputi consulted for the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the University of Rhode Island School of Dental Hygiene, the New England Regional Board of Higher Education, the Veterans Administration, the RI State Department of Social Welfare and for six dental colleges in the United States. He earned appointments as chairman of five trusts, including the Endowment Trust Fund of the American Dental Association, and also served as a board member of Delta Dental of Rhode Island, when it was administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Additionally, Dr. Caputi was a board member of Touro Synagogue for many years.
A loving husband, father, and grandfather, Anthony is survived by Nona Claire (Tameleo) Caputi, his wife of 63 years and their children, Anthony A. Caputi, Jr, of Newport, RI and Staci Bergmann (Derek) of Hopkinton, MA, his grandchildren, Charles and Kendall Bergmann of New York City, and Elise Bergmann, now in her sophomore year at University of Colorado, Boulder. And let’s not forget his faithful companion and napping buddy, Stella Blue, the beloved family dog that loves to lounge around almost as much as Doc did.
In his buff youth, Anthony was a life guard at Easton’s Beach and that’s where he first met his wife Nona, 65 years ago. His love of Newport’s magnificent beaches endured for a lifetime. Doc was a member of Hazards Beach for many years and, after retirement, he could be regularly found basking in summer’s rays with his cousin Marie Smith and her group of sun worshipping ladies at Peabody Beach.
For many years, Anthony was an avid tennis player, enjoying weekly matches with his group of regulars on the manicured courts and in the winterized bubble of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, where his slicing backhand befuddled many of his opponents. For many summers, Anthony and Nona could be found in their regular box at center court during tennis week, enjoying serves and volleys for more consecutive years than any box holder in the Hall of Fame’s tournament history. Before Doc took up tennis, he was a member of the Newport Country Club and was rumored to have a pretty decent short game. While sailing wasn’t naturally in his blood, he enjoyed day sailing on the good sloop Baby Tooth, a 22 foot Halsey Herreshoff fiberglass design. Like any tried and true Newporter, Doc found peace and relaxation while navigating Narragansett Bay, the essence of “God’s Country”.
Anthony was baptized at St Joseph’s Church in Newport and remained an active parishioner throughout his lifetime. Doc’s faith shaped his compassionate world view and the fellowship of the St. Joseph’s community provided much solace and comfort to him.
The Caputi family is eternally grateful to the entire staff of Newport Hospital, especially those that cared for Anthony with loving devotion and good humor while fending off his sarcastic quips. From the Hospital’s Administration to the valet parkers, everybody seemed to know Tony the Tooth and be happy to see him. Most especially held in deepest affection by the family is the Tower 4 crew. Doc had multiple hospitalizations in the last six months, so Tower 4 became quite familiar with him and his gentle teasing. He was always treated with dignity, compassion and respect while receiving high quality care with a gracious and benevolent touch. Dr. Joseph Weiss was Anthony’s biggest cheerleader in his struggles with heart disease as he practiced the medical arts for Anthony’s welfare in a heroic fashion, trying to maintain a quality of life for an eighty-eight year old man that had been through two cardiac bypass surgeries. Compassion, love and heartfelt empathy for the sick are admirable values for a community hospital in an age where the pressures of modern medical practice can seem hurried and impersonal. Newport ought to feel blessed to have this institution at the heart of our community.
Dr. Caputi was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Forum Lodge Sons and Daughters of Italy as well as the Vasco da Gama Society. In his retirement, he was an active member of St. Vincent de Paul Society of St Joseph’s Church and volunteered at the weekly soup kitchen and food pantry, mostly acting as greeter and social director, positions that kept him out of the hot kitchen. Doc was smart like that.
His funeral will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 9:00 am, from the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am, in St. Joseph’s Church, Broadway and Mann Avenue, Newport. Committal Prayers will follow in the Chapel at St. Columba Cemetery, Middletown
Calling hours will be held on Friday, from 4-8 pm in the funeral home.
Condolences, information and directions are available at www.memorialfuneralhome.com
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St Joseph’s Building Fund and St Vincent de Paul of Newport, 5 Mann Avenue, Newport, RI.