Dr. Albert H. Fregosi, 91: Was dedicated to patients

Long after most doctors stopped making house calls, Dr. Albert H. Fregosi of Decatur wouldn’t hesitate to go out and visit his patients, said daughter Giulia Galvin, also of Decatur.

Until his retirement in 1976, if one of his urology patients needed him, he went.

“He would travel all over the place. If someone called needing a catheter put in in the middle of the night, he would go,” she said.

On occasion, he would take along his three children.

Daughter Andrea Massell, an artist from Asheville, N.C., remembers as a child sitting in the car playing games with her siblings while her father made home visits. Frequently, they trotted along by his side as he made his hospital rounds in the evenings, she said.

Family and medicine went together naturally. That’s the way Dr. Fregosi learned to practice medicine from humble beginnings in his rural Vermont hometown.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Fregosi and an older brother, both general physicians at that time, set up a medical practice in the front room of their mother’s house. Mrs. Massell remembers patients lining the streets with her dad and uncle working steadily into the night until all had been seen.

“My father always said people should go into medicine only if they loved caring for patients and not just because they liked medicine or research,” Mrs. Massell said.

Dr. Albert H. Fregosi, 91, died Dec. 24 at Emory Hospital following complications from Alzheimer’s. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the chapel of A.S. Turner & Sons in Decatur. A.S. Turner & Sons is in charge of arrangements.

Dr. Fregosi was the son of Italian immigrants from Proctor, Vt. His father and uncles were marble sculptors and had moved there because of the marble mines, said Mrs. Massell.

He earned a medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, then enlisted in the U.S. Army as a captain during World War II. He served as an infantry physician in the South Pacific, treating soldiers wounded on the front lines, Mrs. Galvin said.

Dr. Fregosi received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained after a grenade exploded. He also survived malaria that left him in a coma for two months, the daughters said.

After the war, Dr. Fregosi completed his residency at Crawford W. Long Hospital in Atlanta, where he met and married his wife, Betty, a nursing student. They were married 61 years.

Dr. Fregosi was a general physician and surgeon in his hometown of Proctor for six years. During that time, he completed a second residency in urology at Dartmouth Medical School.

He taught for two years at the Medical College of Georgia, then practiced medicine in Decatur from 1959 to 1976. The urologist practiced at several hospitals in Atlanta and for a time was chief of staff at DeKalb General Hospital, now known as DeKalb Medical.

Dr. Fregosi’s career was cut short after his fine motor skills diminished because of peripheral neuropathy, his daughters said. Though he had to maneuver on crutches, he stayed just as active as always, said Mrs. Massell.

He continued playing golf, and he followed all sports with a passion, said his daughters. He had been the athletic team physician for DeKalb County Schools, and was particularly involved at Briarcliff High School when his children were students there.

He remained a voracious reader, checking out several books at a time from the public library every week. He read across genres and especially liked mysteries, historical novels and biographies, said Mrs. Galvin. “He read the medical journals and kept up with what was going on in medicine,” she said, “and he would always read several newspapers every day.”

Other survivors include his wife, Betty Carroll Fregosi of Decatur, and a son, Albert Fregosi of Alpharetta.