Grateful for the care he and his late wife received at Mass General, Tony DeVito used planned giving to make donations that will benefit future patients.
Mr. DeVito says he hit it off with Mass General's Peter L. Gross, MD, right away.
Mr. DeVito says he hit it off with Mass General’s Peter L. Gross, MD, right away.

A doting father to his two children, Jonathan and Tia, and devoted guardian of his late wife Debra’s beloved golden retriever, Wallace, Tony DeVito cherishes the memories of the 28 years he and his wife had together. Mr. DeVito also enjoys his work as a member of the one hundred committee, which mounts an annual fundraiser honoring 100 individuals and groups who advance the fight against cancer. 

When Anthony (Tony) DeVito describes meeting his wife, Debra, at a Kenmore Square hot spot in 1976, it’s obvious it was love at first sight.

“I walked over in my John Travolta outfit and told the bartender, ‘Give her anything she wants.’ ” recalls Mr. DeVito, laughing at the memory. “Crazily, we went to the Cape the next day.”

When it came time for Debra and Tony to get the physicals required for a marriage license nine years later, Mr. DeVito’s aunt recommended her primary care physician, Peter L. Gross, MD, at Massachusetts General Hospital.

First Names Immediately

“We really just hit it off,” says Mr. DeVito, now vice president/financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management. “When I met him, it was first names immediately.”

The doctor-patient bond became even stronger after Mr. DeVito, who suffers from lymphedema, a swelling in the arms or legs caused by an impaired lymphatic system, fell seriously ill with an associated infection while on vacation in Bermuda. Mr. DeVito was flown to the United States and rushed to Mass General. He credits Dr. Gross and Stephen B. Calderwood, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, with saving his life and helping him keep the incurable condition under control.

So, when Mrs. DeVito, a telecommunications consultant, complained of sluggishness while on a trip to Maine, Mr. DeVito urged her to see Dr. Gross on her return.

“Peter said, ‘He’s a young guy, we have to fix this,’ and it was a very simple thing—compression stockings,” says Mr. DeVito, who had suffered since childhood with lymphedema. “They had the answer.”

So, when Mrs. DeVito, a telecommunications consultant, complained of sluggishness while on a trip to Maine, Mr. DeVito urged her to see Dr. Gross on her return. In October 2011, she was diagnosed with an acute case of multiple myeloma. Dr. Gross referred Mrs. DeVito to Noopur S. Raje, MD, director, Center for Multiple Myeloma, Mass General Cancer Center. Sadly, despite receiving the most advanced care, including stem cell transplantation, Mrs. DeVito passed away in December 2013.

A Way to Give Back

“Noopur told us that it was not the regular, run-of-the-mill myeloma,” Mr. DeVito recalls. “She said it’s going to be a tough one and I’m going to do everything I can. She pulled out every arrow. [Dr. Raje and her team] gave us two years… I really appreciate the support that we got.”

“This is a way for me to give back for all the kindness I receive from Mass General and to help someone else now and in the future.”

Mr. DeVito directed memorial donations honoring his wife to the Center for Multiple Myeloma and, in addition to making his own gift, named the center a beneficiary in his estate plan, becoming a member of the Phillips Society.

“I found out, it’s not just me. It’s everybody who gets that support,” says Mr. DeVito. “This is a way for me to give back for all the kindness I receive from Mass General and to help someone else now and in the future.”

One Legacy. Everlasting Impact.

To learn more about ways to include Mass General in your will or about the Phillips Society, call the Mass General Office of Planned Giving at (617) 726-2200 or visit our web site.