Charles Vinicor


Died March 25, 1963

College: Berkeley

Charlie Vinicor was from Norwood, New York (which is north of Watertown towards the St. Lawrence River). His father was a local doctor and his mother a nurse. We met in our Sophomore year in Berkeley College, and became friends as we both were in pre-med, and we lived in the same entry way.

It was sometime that year that Charlie contracted Hodgkin’s Disease, which at that time was almost certainly fatal. Nevertheless, he carried on with the treatments, sometimes enduring great pain as his lymph nodes pressed upon his spinal cord nerves. (Now, Hodgkin’s is a very treatable cancer, with an excellent cure rate.)

I remember Charlie as a quiet studious guy with a wry sense of humor. For example, he would joke about incidents such as the time he went to student health after being in pain for hours. The nurse immediately took his temperature, and stated: “I don’t know why you’re here; you don’t have a fever.” When he told her that he had Hodgkin’s, she immediately grasped the gravity of the situation.

Since Charlie lived fairly far from New Haven, he was a guest at our home for Thanksgiving and other holidays. So he became a favorite of my family, as we welcomed him into our home.

Charlie was both bright and hard working; he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was accepted into Yale Medical School, even though the school knew of his Hodgkin’s disease, and the likelihood that he would not survive.

And, indeed, that is what happened. In his second year of medical school, he died, in pain. When he didn’t answer one of my letters, I knew. A month later, I was informed of his death by his parents. They thanked me for my support of him and for my friendship. I never got the chance to thank him for his support and friendship.

—by Martin G. Allen, M.D.