Gary J. Allegretta ’77 died June 6, 2019, in Portland, Maine.
(The following was published on athutchins.com in June 2019)
Dr. Gary Allegretta of Portland, Maine passed away on June 6, 2019, from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He was at home surrounded by loved ones with the music of his favorite artist, James Taylor, playing peacefully in the background.
Gary was born on February 28, 1955, in Norwalk, CT, the first son of Joseph and Elizabeth “Betty” (Bartek) Allegretta. The birth of his brother Mark completed the family three years later. Gary went to school in Wilton, CT, where he excelled academically. In addition, he was involved athletically, playing goalie in both hockey and soccer. It was his high school hockey coach who suggested he visit Bowdoin College. His very first trip to Brunswick, ME planted the seed for his future life in the Pine Tree State.
After graduating Bowdoin in 1977 with honors, Gary pursued his passion for medicine and helping children in need. His path took him to UCONN for medical school, Maine Medical Center for a pediatric residency, and a return trip to UCONN for a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.
Gary returned to Maine for good in 1986 to become the second physician at Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Gary loved his work, the children and their families. He went to great lengths to find new therapies and hope, for he believed “hope never dies”. Gary was known and respected for his compassion, positivity, humor, and excellence of care.
After a number of years as a pediatrician, Gary returned to his passion for end of life treatment. He received his Board certification in Palliative care and spent a year as the Medical Director for the Jason Program in 2008, serving children all across the state of Maine. Eventually, Gary concluded his medical career at Parkview Hospital in Brunswick as a pediatrician and consultant in Palliative care. In July 2012 he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Away from work, Gary found solace in nature, often exploring the great outdoors with the family dogs by his side. A self-taught and gifted photographer, his landscape pictures of Maine decorate the family home to this day. Other passions included exercising, playing his acoustic guitar and, of course, his family.
Gary leaves behind his wife Cathy (Breen) Cestaro, his son Andrew Allegretta (Jessica Curtis) from Blacksburg Virginia, stepsons Cameron Cestaro (Katie) and Connor Cestaro (Taylor Dickson), both from Portland. His mother Elizabeth from Cumberland Foreside, brother Mark (Emily Ferris) from Charlotte Vermont. Brother-in-law’s Robert Breen from Vancouver, John Breen (Jody) from Calgary, Sister-in-law Susan Breen from Collingwood Ontario. Father-in-law Gordon Breen (Jill Teeple) from Ottawa. Nieces and Nephews include Adam & Audrey Allegretta, Curtis & Cailey Brennan, Kenzie, Riley & Meghan Breen. Step-Grandchildren Max & Evie Cestaro, as well as many Aunts and Uncles and cousins from Connecticut. Gary was predeceased by his Father Joseph and Mother-in-law Gervaise Cameron.
Cathy wishes to thank all those who helped Gary along this Alzheimer’s journey, starting with his primary care provider Dr. John Erickson, Neurologist Eric Dinnerstein, speech pathologist Steven Belanger, the Aphasia support group, Home Instead (specifically Deborah McCoy), Oceanview Memory daycare, Dr. Ann Magner and ALL the wonderful staff at Fallbrook Woods who loved Gary for the 26 months that he lived with them. Finally, the team at Southern Maine hospice who most importantly, helped us so we could bring him back HOME.