What is the history of Montelepre Hospital? Who was Montelepre anyway?
The hospital was founded by Philip Montelepre, who was born of Sicilian parents here in New Orleans on May 28, 1897. His father, Paul Montelepre, was a prominent man in the city. Following World War I, the Italian government commissioned Paul Montelepre Colonel Cavalier, an honor bestowed on him for the contribution he made toward the good will and positive relationship between the Americans and Italians in Louisiana. This was accomplished largely through the newspaper he edited, Il Messangerio, one of the first Italian newspapers in this part of the country. He also served in the Italian government.
His son Philip Montelepre attended Jesuit High School, Tulane University and the University of Mississippi. He received a medical degree at St. Louis University in 1924. He began private practice in 1925, and in 1936 he founded and operated the first privately owned hospital in New Orleans. Located at 3125 Canal Street, the Montelepre Memorial Hospital began with only nine beds, but expansion was soon to come.
During his relatively short life, Dr. Montelepre was appointed to many positions of importance such as assistant coroner of Orleans Parish in 1938, and medical examiner for the Louisiana Athletic Commission.
During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and served as medical examiner for the Orleans Parish Draft Board. His work in that capacity was so impressive that he received a citation from President Harry Truman.
Montelepre was a member of various medical associations, but he also participated in community affairs as a member of the Benevolent Knights of America and several Carnival organizations.
He also married and became the father of three children who provided him with grandchildren before he died in 1958.
I am a native New Orleanian currently living in Plattsburgh, N.Y. What can you tell me about LaRocca's Hospital where I was born on Dec. 8, 1956, and Dr. LaRocca?
I know a great deal more about Dr. Henry A. LaRocca than I do about Plattsburgh. I had to look it up on a map.
Dr. LaRocca was a resident of Algiers, a businessman and a sportsman. He was like another physician in New Orleans, Dr. Montelepre, who founded and operated his own hospital. LaRocca's Hospital and Clinic in Algiers was founded to help meet the health-care needs of West Bank residents.
LaRocca was born in New Orleans and attended Warren Easton High School, Tulane University and LSU medical school.
Because of his interest in sports, LaRocca sponsored baseball teams. In 1953, the first team he sponsored won the All-American amateur baseball tournament at Johnstown near Philadelphia. After this spectacular victory, LaRocca said, "If you let kids play, you take care of ills you can't cure by medical means." His teams were so successful that they won three straight All-American amateur baseball titles, an unprecedented feat at the time. And in 1954, LaRocca was named Sponsor of the Year.
He also was interested in boxing and basketball. He staged games for the youth of the city in an effort to fight juvenile delinquency, a crusade he started shortly after graduating from medical school in 1933.
Like so many civic-minded men, LaRocca was a member of several Carnival clubs, the Southern Amateur Athletic Union and the Knights of Columbus.
It was a shock to us all when he died suddenly from a heart attack on Aug. 18, 1957, after he went to his camp at Lake Washington near Port Sulfur for a weekend of fishing. He was only 48 years old.