Community members pay tribute to Dr. Mario Argentieri's half-century of medical service

HORNELL — Dr. Mario A. Argentieri’s nearly half century of service to the Hornell community is being remembered and honored this weekend following his death at age 96 Thursday.

Known simply as “Doc” to many of his patients, friends and associates in and around the Maple City, Argentieri was born in Hornell on Jan. 25, 1922. He was a graduate of the old St. Ann’s School in Hornell, Hornell High School and Georgetown University, where he obtained both his undergraduate and medical degrees.

Argentieri served in the Army Air Corps as a flight surgeon before going on to specialize in Internal Medicine and cardiology. He began his Hornell practice in 1954, joining and working on the medical staffs at both St. James Mercy Hospital and Bethesda Hospital.

Argentieri maintained his Hornell practice for nearly five decades, serving at various times as chairman of the Steuben County Medical Society and earning the distinction of being named to the National College of Cardiologists. He retired at age 80 in in the early 2000s.

While Argentieri’s medical career spanned a half century that saw astounding advances in medical technology and treatments, his memory for family histories, compassionate care, friendly demeanor and personal dedication remained the hallmarks of his practice, family members and colleagues attest.

Bryan O’Donovan, president and CEO of St. James Hospital, expressed sadness at Argentieri’s passing and noted the length and quality of his medical career.

“We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Argentieri, who served at both St. James and Bethesda hospitals for many years,” O’Donovan said. “He cared for thousands of patients in and around our community, and provided the highest quality, compassionate care.

“He was well respected by our staff, both professionally and personally. Dr. Argentieri actively participated in our most recent St. James town meetings and was deeply interested in our transformation plans, and of the future of local healthcare for generations to come.”

Argentieri and his wife, Dona, who predeceased him in 2010, established the Mario A. Argentieri, M.D. Scholarship Fund at St. Ann’s Academy, a testament to the couple’s commitment to providing a “good education for local children,” said Jerome S. O’Connor, president of the St. Ann’s Academy Board of Directors.

“We are happy to have this scholarship because it allows other kids to attend the school who might not be able to afford the tuition even though we try to keep the tuition low, it’s still an additional burden on people, so things like that help – the scholarship that he established,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said Argentieri’s support for education mirrored his life-long dedication to service.

“He’s just always been a caring member of the community,” O’Connor added. “If you counted up the hours he dedicated to the community, it would be tremendous.”

When then Hornell mayor Shawn Hogan tapped Argentieri to be the Grand Marshall of the city’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he pointed out the the doctor’s long relationship with the Maple City’s Irish families.

“He is of Italian descent — both his parents came from Italy — but he probably treated more Irish people as a physician than Irish mothers treated kids,” Hogan said. “He’s part of the fabric of our community. He’s been a well-respected member of our community for years and years. He practiced medicine for over 50 years.”

“It only took me 93 years to become an Irishman,” Argentieri joked at the time. “But seriously, as I thought about it, I thought I would do it in honor of my Irish benefactors, my friends Dr. James and John Kelly, who were involved in my coming back to practice (in Hornell).”

John Buckley, the current mayor of Hornell, said he had known Argentieri for many years and called “Doc” a “great man.”

"To say Doc Argentieri was a pillar of the community would be an understatement,” Buckley said. “He was an institution. Always devoted, always an advocate, Doc led a life of service which had a profound impact on countless people in and around Hornell. He will be sorely missed."

He is survived by six children, 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Calling hours for Argentieri continue Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc. at 285 Main St. in Hornell. A a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Ann’s Church in Hornell. Committal prayers and interment, with military honors, will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Town of Fremont.