Anthony J. Stella Gift

He was a big White Sox fan, loved to read and liked to play the horses a bit. Kind, caring, strong and always there for his family, the late Anthony Catino is being honored by his grandson, Anthony Stella, through the creation of a garden at Loyola University Health System. Nestled into the exterior north corner of the Loyola Outpatient Center on the Maywood campus, the garden is centered on a contemporary fountain and surrounded by redbud trees, boxwood, a Japanese maple, a variety of perennials and decorative planters. Café tables and chairs provide an outdoor extension of the Jazzman Café for patients and their families to enjoy a restful outdoor space in fine weather.

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Mr. Stella thinks it is a fitting way to honor a man who loved life and was relentlessly positive, even in the face of many health issues, including an aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer,  and a brain tumor. “Even with his last illness, he didn’t get depressed—he was always optimistic and trusted his Loyola doctors, especially Dr. [Maureen] Fearon,” Mr. Stella recalled. “When he found out he had the brain tumor I came into the room and he was doing bed exercises. ‘I’ve got to be strong if they’re going to operate’ he said. And he was 90 years old.” “The Catino Garden will provide visitors to the Outpatient Center an oasis of beauty and calm in keeping with our philosophy to treat the whole person,” said Daniel Post, senior vice president for ambulatory programs & system services. “It is a gem.”

A highly informed newshound who kept up on politics, the economy and medicine all his life, Mr. Catino was, according to his grandson, “a blue-collar Republican” dedicated to making a better life for his family. He also was extremely handy, willing to roll up his sleeves and help whenever a carpentry, plumbing or electrical problem presented itself. Mr. Stella had ample time to witness his grandfather’s character in action. Growing up, “a week didn’t go by that we didn’t see my grandparents,” he said, and he and his grandfather spent a good deal of time together at the office after Mr. Stella founded his commercial real estate company, Stellco Properties, Inc. in Naperville, Ill. Unable to attend college himself, Mr. Catino advocated wide-ranging reading and urged his grandson to get an education; Mr. Stella graduated from DePaul University, where he majored in business administration. Early on, real estate fascinated him and he “dabbled a bit” on his parent’s behalf. Later, he began looking for properties to acquire and manage. Then, as now, he finds the process interesting and closing a deal to be an especially satisfying challenge. Many of the properties he has acquired have needed renovation and his grandfather was always ready to climb a ladder to help. But perhaps more important was his grandfather’s advice always to be ahead of the curve and avoid problems by anticipating what was coming in the marketplace. Following that advice has been critical to his success, he says.

Mr. Stella has found that fostering good relationships and dealing with integrity — values that both his grandfather and his parents (also independent business owners) inculcated in him from the start — are critical to drive a successful business. “People need to get a sense of fairness from you. And if you promote a culture where you value those things, that gives you a competitive advantage,” he said. With his own success based on the lessons he learned from others, he is happy to have the means to give something back. The garden will be a fitting tribute to a man who tried to make things nicer for others, Mr. Stella believes. “My grandfather was a practical, Depression-era guy and might be embarrassed a bit at this. But then he’d say  ‘Ahhh, Tony. Do what you want to do!’” For more information about supporting patient care at Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development & External Affairs at development @lumc.edu or call (708) 216-3201.

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Creating an Oasis for Healing