Dr. Arturo Maria Volpe was born on August 24, 1952 in Naples, Italy to Wanda Basadonna and her husband Alberto Maria Volpe. |
As a boy, Arturo attended the Jesuits' La Quercia in Florence for one year and then Institut le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad, Switzerland until he took his high school baccalaureate under the Swiss/French educational system, "le bac." He enjoyed two "gap" years in London, traveling several times to India, before returning to Italy for a degree in Maritime Law from the University of Naples.
In 1978 Arturo moved to New York and then to Houston for a position in the shipping department at Conoco under the direction of Constantine Nicandros, and earned an MBA at the University of Houston. Subsequently he worked as an oil trader for private companies and, traveling often to South America on business, added fluent Spanish to his repertoire of superbly fluent English, French and Italian. He was comfortable in any setting in any country and could, for example, sit in a café in Paris switching effortlessly from speaking English with his wife Margaret to discussing the daily specials with the French waiter to reading the Corriere della Sera with his post-lunch espress. At his favorite bookstores on Boulevard St. Germain-des-Pres, La Hune and L'ecume des Pages, the staff thought he was more Parisian than they when he visited with them about Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Balzac and other favorite authors. And Herge; he had every Tintin book by the Belgian author published since he was a child.
Upon the death of his father in 1988 he returned to Naples to run the ship agency founded by his great-grandfather more than 100 years before. After living with Margaret in Naples and Monaco and his eventual sale of A. M. Volpe & Co. to the Morelli family, who have continued the business under the Volpe name, Arturo chose to return to Houston and follow his lifelong interest in fitness by enrolling at Texas Chiropractic College. He graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1998 and in January 1999 established what became a thriving independent natural medicine practice in the Rice Village, which then moved to Sunset Boulevard in 2003. Arturo was also certified by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNBC) of the International and American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. For the last several years he served as a member of the CNCB Scientific Council.
As a doctor, his third and most satisfying career, Arturo was especially highly regarded for his work with children diagnosed with autism, ADD and ADHD. He will be remembered by the many hundreds of families he helped over the years, and by everyone who knew him for his wide range of interests, his expansive and detailed knowledge of all manner of subjects, his quiet but keen sense of humor, his innate intelligence, and his gentle and kind manner.
A natural athlete, he skied every day during Rosey's winter semesters at the Gstaad campus and was a tennis ace, but most of all he loved the water, sailing, and swimming. He enjoyed many wonderful times on Capri and in Monaco, the South of France, Zihuatenejo, Huatulco, Cancun, Acapulco, Costa Rica and San Diego. He was an avid fan of futbol. Then, at the age of 56, Arturo fell in love with running. He started with 10K races and half-marathons, and completed his first marathon in Chicago in October 2011. He had a perfect physical a month later in November, but was diagnosed with glioblastoma following a seizure in December.
Two weeks after brain surgery he was back at the office and being interviewed by Channel 2 News about the link between poor diet, food allergies and ADD/ADHD. Throughout 6 weeks of radiation and 18 months of chemotherapy that began in February 2012, he continued to run: eight half-marathons and two more marathons - Houston in January 2013 and Vancouver in May 2013.
He worked full-time until July 17 of this year and until just a few days before his last breath in August he was still speaking four languages, still making his funny jokes and plays on words, still enjoying his favorite dinners brought in from Prego and Canopy and Julia's and his morning blueberry scone from Starbucks, and still insisting the nurses take his blood pressure the "old-fashioned" way without the artificial aid of modern electronic readouts.
Arturo was preceded in death by his father and by his friends and brothers-in-law Michele Capodanno of Milan and Luigi del Prete of Venafro, Italy. He will be greatly missed by his mother Wanda of Naples and his sisters Dorothy del Prete of Venafro and her children and grandchildren; Fiammetta Pasca di Magliano of Naples and her husband Manuel and their children and grandchildren; and Gigliola Capodanno of Milan and her children and grandchildren, as well as by his former wife and friend of more than 25 years Margaret Lawler and her (and his) extended Lawler/Sullivan family; his "brother" John Painter; his assistants Allison Medford Plesko, Diana Ramirez and Jeanie Friedman; the many adults, children and entire families whose lives were transformed by his knowledge and dedication; friends who were always important to him no matter how many years had passed since the last time they were able to spend time together; and countless others with whom he crossed paths over the years.
Messages to Arturo's family and Margaret may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions in his honor may be made to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77030 or the Autism Research Institute at www.autism.com.
As he requested, there will be no memorial service, but Margaret will host a reception on Saturday, September 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Rice University's Cohen House to celebrate his life and his legacy. He wished for his ashes be scattered to the four winds to become a part of nature so that he will always be free and, therefore, at peace.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 8, 2013