Family and friends remember caring West Side Doctor William Iaconetti
LAHAINA – Dr. William Iaconetti passed peacefully on Oct. 7 at Maui Memorial Medical Center with family by his side. He was 93.
An extraordinarily dedicated physician, true steward of our community and devoted family man, he will be missed.
He was born and raised in Berkeley, California; awarded his medical degree through the V12 Navy College Training Program from the University of California, San Francisco; and was stationed in Nagoya, Japan, two years during the Korean War.
He married Lorraine Elizabeth Iaconetti in 1949. They had three children: Richard, Robert and Lori. Mrs. Iaconetti passed away in 2013.
Recruited by Pioneer Mill, the Iaconetti’s moved to Lahaina in 1955. Later in the same decade, he co-founded with six other fellow physicians the Maui Medical Group.
Many hail the legacy of his service and intimate connection to the island community.
Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Cultural Advisor Clifford Nae’ole described him.
“While his roots may have been on the West Side, his care and concern spread island-wide. He went beyond his medical expertise to dispense community action along with prescriptions of aloha.”
Lori Iaconetti-Baldwin, the youngest sibling, recalled her father’s early practice on Maui.
“He was trained as a general surgeon, but when he moved to Maui, he did everything.
“They (Pioneer Mill) hired him as one of their main, lead doctors in Lahaina. He saved a lot of people’s lives, stitched a lot of people up and delivered probably a lot of the kids around my age (56) or older,” she explained.
The young couple’s first residence was “behind the dispensary,” Lori said, now 900 Front St.
“They were there for a short period of time. My mom thought Lahaina was so hot, she started driving,” Lori continued, “and she drove out to Napili, where she found their very first house that they rented which was located where Napili Kai (Beach Resort) is now.”
Subsequently, they moved to their home on Lower Honoapiilani Road by Alealoa, where they lived most of the 62 years they resided on Maui.
Lori recounted their love-at-first-sight reaction to the island: “When my parents moved to Maui originally, they came with the intention of staying for only one year; that was it. My dad and mom fell in love with Lahaina, fell in love with Maui and the people. That’s what kept them there.”
Son Bob described his down-home style: “He was an old-time family doctor. I remember he kept his medical bag in his car for years, because he was still making house calls. Nobody does that anymore. There were just so many times when he’d get a call, and he’d drop whatever to go take care.”
Lori had similar memories. “Our phone rang off the hook all the time. People could call; they had our house number. It was unlisted, but he gave it to his patients. People knew that they could call my dad at any time, which they did.”
As a delegate representing Hawaii in the American Medical Association throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he advocated on behalf of the medical industry against the imposition of the insurance companies.
Lori explained his involvement: “He was fighting against insurance companies dictating a patient’s treatment. He would travel back to New Orleans, back to Chicago, back to D.C.; and that whole time, he was fighting to keep the insurance companies out of medicine,” she added.
He was the team doctor for the Lahainaluna High School and St. Anthony football teams in the 1960s.
Lanny Tihada remembers him fondly both on the field when he was a student and in the doctor’s office. “He was an outstanding doctor and, above all, an outstanding person,” he said.
It was when he retired from his medical practice 19 years ago that his community volunteerism took a front row seat.
He was appointed to and served on the Maui Planning Commission for a five-year term beginning in 2004.
At his last meeting on the powerful panel in March 2009, a resolution was drafted in recognition of his valuable guidance and dedication.
Then-fellow commissioner Wayne Hedani provided some additional insight in a recent e-mail to the Lahaina News: “He was a good and able Planning Commissioner. ‘Doc’ stood his ground on issues he cared about and was passionate about preserving open space and vistas to and along the shoreline.”
Eldest son Richard observed, “His community contributions outside of his medical practice would be in support of and continued working towards a more healthy environment.”
“He was not anti-development,” Bob advised. “He advocated for trying to keep Hawaii for its residents and not just letting development run rampant and completely out of control.”
His children considered him an exemplary role model.
“He was sincere, kind, caring, respectful. He was an amazing individual; I feel so lucky to have had him as a dad,” Lori said
“He was about connecting with people,” Bob added, “He did it through his work; he did it by example; he did it by the way he lived his life. He was so loved and respected. Anyone would strive to be at that level of love and respect that he got.”
A memorial service is scheduled on Nov. 3 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church in Kapalua, next to the Honolua Store.
A reception and dinner will follow at Taverna Maui, 2000 Village Road, at 5:30 p.m.
“It was my dad’s favorite Italian restaurant and the area where my dad used to love to walk,” Lori said, adding, “Everyone is welcome.”