Class: 1926Inducted: 2005
Dr. Sebastian P. Vaccaro was born in 1908. He graduated from APHS in 1926. He then attended college at Georgetown University, and then later graduated from Georgetown University Medical School, ranked first in his class.
Dr. Vaccaro opened his medical practice in Asbury Park in 1939, at 509 Fourth Ave. He kept office hours 12 hours every day Monday through Saturday and for 4 hours on Sundays. It quickly became common knowledge in Asbury Park that Dr. Vaccaro's office hours amounted to only half the time that he was available to treat patients. Dr. Vaccaro committed himself to the grand tradition of making house calls to see his patients. His day routinely ended past midnight, and he slept with his office phone by his bed, so his patients could contact him at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, at which time he would visit their homes, if necessary, to handle emergencies. He would remain at the bedside of patients who were seriously ill. His treatment fee was $3.00.
Dr. Vaccaro was loved most in Asbury Park's primarily African-American west side community, where he was particularly committed to providing medical care. In addition to providing medical treatment, Dr. Vaccaro became someone Asbury Park's poorer residents turned to for help with many of life's problems. When people could not afford medicine, he allowed them to charge his account at the pharmacy. When they lacked heat, he often paid for fuel to be delivered to their homes. When the Salk vaccine to fight polio was denied to poor children for lack of money, Dr. Vaccaro administered over 1000 vaccines to children for free.
Unique to Dr. Vaccaro's medical practice was that he was routinely accompanied by his wife, Rosemarie, a registered nurse. Together they worked as a medical team that is still remembered in Asbury Park.
Dr. Vaccaro was knighted into the Order of St. George by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church for his humanitarian services. He was honored by a testimonial dinner given by Asbury Park's African-American community, which was attended by more that 500 people. That night he worked late making house calls, and died in his sleep that morning on October 21st, 1959.
Dr. Vaccaro's legacy includes 4 children and 8 grandchildren. His family is still active in Asbury Park, continuing the tradition of community spirit and caring that he started here. Henry Vaccaro is responsible for the renovation of the Berkeley-Carteret Hotel and for the authentic restoration of the Crystal Ballroom, the site of this induction ceremony.