Alumna of the Year for 2009:
Virginia Angelico-Tatum, DDS
Work hard. Get an education. Make the world better by giving of yourself. Do this day in and day out, not just sometimes. What matters is loyalty to what you hold dear.
Many would call these the core values of dentistry. Historians cite these principles as the basis for the “great American dream.”
They are indeed the guiding principles of the life of Dr. Virginia Angelico-Tatum, her love of dentistry and her consistent support for the LSU School of Dentistry.
The school was just ten years old when Dr. Angelico received her DDS in 1978. Nothing in life is guaranteed and that was certainly true for females entering the emerging field of dentistry 31 years ago. And, there she was on graduation day, already more than $150,000 in debt.
So, she followed the example she saw in her Italian grandparents who landed in America at Ellis Island in New York at the turn of the century. Facing fear with hard work, they opened a grocery store in downtown New Orleans at the corner of Gravier and Bolivar Streets. For more than 40 years, and in halting English, they found ways to quietly serve the needs of others by pumping kerosene, cutting meat and making sandwiches for the workers nearby. No fanfare. Just long hours, day after day, as down payment on a better tomorrow. In a full-circle tribute to Virginia’s life, that grocery store was located on land that is now part of the campus of the LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), the university that played such a big part in shaping her life.
Dr. Angelico has spent enormous personal time as a leader of the LSUSD Alumni Association. She has attended countless functions of the boards of directors of both the LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation and the LSUSD Alumni Association.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she was one of the first to call with an offer of help. Over the years, she has graciously hosted events, spearheaded fundraisers and made phone calls…whatever it takes to make the world better through the profession of dentistry.
She was one of the first contributors to the LSUSD Committee of 100 which provides much needed support for faculty and student development programs, as well as facility renovations and other important endeavors. Although she fulfilled her $10,000 pledge years ago, she continues to contribute generously each year.
She is also active in the New Orleans Dental Association and the New Orleans Dental Conference. Normalee Ward, who is the right-hand person to the chairman of the New Orleans Dental Conference, has known Dr. Angelico for 26 years. “Virginia is always at my beck and call throughout the conference. From the day it opens to the day it closes, she makes herself available. She is a great lady. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.”
“Always there” is how people who know Dr. Angelico describe her. That is certainly true of the wonderful 31-year relationship with the dental school and why the Board of Directors has chosen her as the 2009 Alumnus of the Year. What matters is loyalty to what we hold dear.