GoLocalProv |  Obituaries |  Dr Alexander M. Calenda of Warwick dies at 94

GoLocalProv | Obituaries | Dr Alexander M. Calenda of Warwick dies at 94

Friday, November 18, 2022

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On November 16, Dr. Alexander M. Calenda of Warwick, died at the age of 94 after living a beautiful and blessed life. Surrounded by the love of his family, he left peacefully and with grace to continue on his way and to be fully welcomed by the embrace of God. Dr. Calenda leaves behind Mary, his wife of nearly 62 years, and his children, Giovonne Mary, Alexander, Katherine and William and his son-in-law Scott whose hearts will forever be filled with love, admiration and devotion. immeasurable gratitude for the presence of this husband and father in their lives. He also leaves his dog, Georgie Girl and his kitten, Oliver Twist, whose company filled the days with mutual love and joy.

Dr. Calenda was born in Providence, RI on June 17, 1928, and was the proud son of Mr. and Mrs. Alessandro and Giovannina Calenda, who came to this country as young Italian immigrants. The beloved youngest of five children, he was predeceased by his siblings and in-laws; Dr. Charles and Ms. Amelia Calenda, Mr. Nicholas and Ms. Etta Sammartino, Dr. Daniel G. and Ms. Belle Calenda, and Mr. Mario and Ms. Nina Marcone. Dr. Calenda was predeceased by his parents and father and stepmother, Dr. William F. and Mrs. Katherine Donahue of Brookline, MA.

Dr. Calenda was a graduate of Classical High School and Providence College and earned a medical degree from the University of Bologna, Italy. He completed his rotational internship at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, where he also had the good fortune to meet his beloved wife, Mary Donahue RN. Dr. Calenda continued his training at Harvard University Graduate School of Medicine, where he obtained a certificate in the basic sciences of ophthalmology. He then completed his residency at Boston University Medical School where he served as chief resident. Licensed in RI in 1958 for the practice of medicine, Dr. Calenda proudly maintained his license until his death through continued professional development in the field of ophthalmology.

Dr. Calenda opened his private practice in 1960, maintained offices in Providence and Warwick, and was the first ophthalmologist to practice in the Kent County area. He was one of the co-founders of the Department of Ophthalmology at Kent County Hospital and later served as Head of the Department. During his career as a surgeon, Dr. Calenda also served on the staff of Rhode Island Hospital and served as chief of the department of ophthalmology at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. . Dr. Calenda was board certified in ophthalmology in 1963 after which he became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was the first to establish clinical and surgical services at the State Institution and the Ladd School, serving as chief medical director at both institutions.

Dr. Calenda was a member of several professional associations including Providence Medical Society, RI Medical Society, American Medical Association, New England Ophthalmological Society in Boston, MA, American Society of Ophthalmologists, Society of Refractive Surgeons, and the New England Ocular Implant Society in Boston, MA.

Dr. Calenda was trained by Dr. Charles Kelman of New York, who invented the advanced technique of small incision surgery and ultrasonic cataract removal. Dr. Calenda was the first IR ophthalmologist to use the phacoemulsification technique, which is standard today, and he later introduced intraocular lens implantation after cataract surgery. Dr. Calenda was grateful to have had the opportunity to use these techniques at Kent County Hospital, which promoted and supported advances in modern eye surgery.

Dr. Calenda then trained in corneal transplantation with world-renowned corneal surgeon Dr. Ramon Castroviejo of New York, which enabled him to perform Rhode Island’s first successful corneal transplant at Kent County Hospital. Following this, he established RI’s first and only Eye Bank. With his training in corneal surgery, Dr. Calenda then advanced the procedure of implanting a telescopic device (Cardona implant) in the eyes of patients with severe vision loss due to corneal opacification. The impact of this procedure was evident from the start with Dr. Calenda’s successful restoration of 20/20 vision in one eye of a patient with total bilateral blindness. It was one of the few successful such surgeries performed nationwide.

Dr. Calenda continued his training under the pioneering tutelage of Dr. Karl Ossoenig of the University of Iowa in the use of ultrasound for the exploration and diagnosis of diseases of the internal aspects of the eye. Dr. Calenda introduced this modernity to RI.

At the invitation of Dr. Danielle Aron Rosa, the inventor of the YAG laser for secondary cataract surgery, Dr. Calenda traveled to France to be trained by her at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris. He returned to RI to perform this surgery, as well as the use of laser surgery in the treatment of glaucoma. It was again at Kent County Hospital that Dr. Calenda was the first to introduce the concept of outpatient cataract surgery.

Dr. Calenda was a brilliant and gifted surgeon who loved his profession and was honored by the extraordinary opportunity it afforded him to improve the lives of his patients. He was a lifelong learner with an inquisitive mind and a desire to know. He valued his own education and instilled it in his children. Although he didn’t consider himself an artist, he was a creative innovator who let God guide his eyes and hands throughout his 50-year practice. Dr. Calenda loved the relationships that were formed with his patients over the years and looked forward to their visits which often included conversations in Italian and the exchange of delicious recipes. With gentleness, professionalism and concern, he focused on each patient as a whole person. He was also a teacher who enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others and did so with enthusiasm, respect and encouragement. In his later years he developed an interest in studying wine and he approached this new passion with almost the same fervor as his medical studies. This led to the founding of the RI Academy of Wine, a collaboration with some of his dearest friends. Dr Calenda was also a parishioner of St. Kevin’s Church in Warwick and a member of the Warwick Country Club.

Despite all of his experiences and successes, it is undoubtedly his love for his family and their love for him that has given Dr. Alexander Calenda the most joy and meaning in his life. Nothing compares to the days spent at Camelot Farm in Warwick Neck, the Narragansett Bay home he and Mary lovingly created. It was the center of many celebrations and happy gatherings with family and friends over the years. Cooking and enjoying meals at the kitchen table, beautiful sunsets over the water, and walks in the 1940s among the family herd were some of his favorite things. The boy from the city of Providence never ceased to be amazed by the life given to him and we are grateful for the gift of his life.

His funeral will be on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at Thomas & Walter Quinn Funeral Home, 2435 Warwick Ave, Warwick, with a Christian burial mass at 11:00 a.m. at St. Kevin’s Church, 333 Sandy Ln, Warwick. The burial will be private. Visiting hours will be Monday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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