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Local lifestyle columnists

In memory of my classmate, Dr. Victor Agnello

By From page A2 | June 30, 2014

I met my high school classmate Victor Agnello in Mr. Scherr’s 10th-grade English class at Armijo High School. I have a vague memory of him and David Salvitti, who was then and is now the biggest Parliament-Funkadelic fan in the universe, debating the merits of P-Funk versus hard rock.

Victor was a drummer with infectious energy. He was very charismatic and girls swooned over him because of his looks and yet he was cool to everyone. A friend of Vic’s, Todd Frank, said it best: “I’ve always said if Victor wasn’t such a great guy, I would have hated him.”

In our senior year, 1982, Vic’s band Sorcerer played in the Armijo gym. One song I remember them doing was Van Halen’s then-popular cover version of the Roy Orbison classic “Oh, Pretty Woman.” He later joined an up-and-coming metal band called Lääz Rockit.

They released their first album, “City’s Gonna Burn,” in 1984 and were part of the burgeoning Bay Area thrash metal scene. That year I saw them at Solano Community College and also opening for Mercyful Fate at the Kabuki Theatre in San Francisco. The latter was memorable because it was the first time I’d experienced moshing, which I was shocked to see a metal crowd doing, as I thought only punk fans “slam-danced.”

In 1999, I was at a cabin in a church camp with three other guys, all of us in our mid-30s. We stayed up late, talking like teenagers, and one guy mentioned he used to jam with a local band. Another guy said he knew a guy in high school who played bass for a band. I told them about Vic. We were all stunned to discover we were talking about the same band, Lääz Rockit. When the fourth guy came in and had no connection with Lääz, we jokingly ostracized him.

In 2008, I reconnected with Victor to do a feature story for the Daily Republic. I Googled him and was surprised to find that he was a beloved allergy doctor with his own practice in North Carolina. He’d also served in the U.S. Army. The story, “Vic Agnello, Heavy Metal Doctor,” ran in the spring of that year.

In the spring of 2013, Victor was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. His initial post on a website called Caring Bridges was full of his usual optimism. He was confident he would beat it.

His wife Emily posted periodic updates of the ups and downs of his treatment. Victor posted in November of last year. He fought hard and he fought well, but on June 1, Victor died.

I have had classmates die. Vic’s death has been hands down the hardest to deal with simply because of what a genuinely nice person he was.

There was a memorial for Victor in Pleasant Hill recently and the members of Lääz Rockit spoke as well as me and two close friends of Vic’s and my classmates, Brad Farmer and Miguel Rivera.

I have already been more committed to the American Cancer’s Society’s Relay for Life (Fairfield’s is July 19 at Armijo) than ever before, but the tragedy of this brutal disease taking such a loving and kind person who leaves behind a wife and seven daughters has steeled my resolve.

Action aids in healing. The Agnello Family Fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank and you can deposit a check at any Well’s Fargo branch nationwide. You can also mail a check (made out to “Emily R. Agnello – Agnello Family Fund”) to: Wells Fargo, 352 Williamson Road, Mooresville, NC 28117.

To donate to my Relay for Life team or dedicate a luminaria in Victor’s name online, visit: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/iguift.

Now, to be clear, I was not a close friend of Vic’s. There were many people, such as the aforementioned Todd, Brad and Miguel, as well as Ralph “Bruddah Keahi” Renaud and Michael Weese, who knew him much better than I did.

But that’s the point. I am torn up because Victor Agnello was only the third person I have met in my life, besides John Gibson and Matt Garcia, who had the unique ability to make everyone feel like they were his special friend.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade

Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Bruddah KeahiJune 30, 2014 - 5:16 am

    EŌ E AKONI, E KO LEO ME'E NO KĀKOU Keu kou kalena palena'ole e ha'i'ōlelo maoli e pili ana ko kākou palala pilipū pa'a pau'ole. MAHALO NUI iā 'oe e nēia hana kāko'o a me kou mau mea ho'omana'o me he makana la. 'A'ole hiki iā kākou ke poina i ke aloha o loko o Victor a me 'oe kekahi. 'Oaia, E mau nō ku'u kulu waimaka, e kahe iho nei, e ho'olewa e ku'u pu'uwai ma muli o kou ho'ola'a 'ia ka hana like 'ole o Victor Alexander Agnello. He mau makahiki paha pono no'u no ka 'emi 'ana o ko'u kaumaha hononu loa... aka 'a'ole na'e e piha 'iki 'ia ka puka e waiho ai no ko ia hala 'ana Me kēia ko kākou aloha laha'ole no ku'u palala eia pū kekahi ke kuleana kaumaha o ko ia pau 'ana a me ka 'ike o ke 'eha pili. 'A'ole kākou e waiho wale, e hele a maopopo ma'a i ke 'eha pau'ole. E Victor Alexander Agnello, E ku'u kaikaina pilipu pa'a pau'ole Kū ke ha'oha'o !! E 'olu'olu, e moe i ka moe kapu o Niolpua Kau a kau, mau a mau loa aku "Rocker Ralph" ('O kainoa nau e kau mai ai)

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  • Bruddah KeahiJune 30, 2014 - 5:20 am

    Hey Tony, Whose Voice is a Powerful Mentor to us all, Your boundless talent speaks purely relating to a brother who's forever tightly bound to us all. MUCH THANKS/ADMIRATION to you for this supportive effort and your ongoing memorial here as a gift. We cannot ever forget the love within Victor nor in you also. Although, my ongoing tears continue to flow, my heart is lifted because of your tribute to the various works of Victor Alexander Agnello. Maybe several years are required for me to reduce the very depth of my sadness... but in no way shall even a bit be filled of the void left by his passing. With the type of aloha we all had in our brother, so too comes the weight of the loss and the sense of the pain. We do not lose it more than we learn to live with it. ***************************** Hey Victor Alexander Agnello, My younger brother bound tightly forever You are missed incredibly, PLEASE Sleep the sacred sleep of Niolopua For season upon season, always forever onward. "Rocker Ralph" (The name you gave me)

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  • William Clark DeLashmuttJuly 19, 2014 - 2:34 am

    I learned last night about the passing of Vic Agnello, MD. He was a customer of mine for quite a few years and I got to know him well. He was a nice guy and did make you feel welcome at all times. Vic let me into his office where he shared the story about his past including his background in a heavy metal band, time in the Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the fact he was a 49er fan with a helmet on his shelf to remind everyone who #1 is! He had a great laugh and a smile on his face. I first met him when he opened his first office and had the pleasure to meet his lovely wife and the first 2 or 3 of his daughters. Over the years I kidded him about how he was filling out the roster for an all girls softball lineup with each new addition. Vic I miss you. You were a God fearing man and a wonderful human being to all. If the world only had many, many, more people like you it would be a better place. God Bless you and your loving family. Rest in peace my friend. God willing I will see you again.

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  • Robert SarroOctober 07, 2014 - 4:05 pm

    Hi Tony: Thank you very much for your exceptional words regarding Victor. I met Victor during our first week of medical school in 1993; he became a best friend and a brother. He had an innate ability to succeed at whatever he attempted. Music, academics, medicine, the military, being an exceptional husband and a father. Victor was a dreamer who put his beliefs into motion with success. He did this through humility and as you so eloquently stated he had the unique ability to make everyone feel they were his special friend. This fact was so apparent when family and friends had the opportunity to get together and speak about Victor prior to his funeral. He was a very special person that I will miss dearly. I would also like to thank you for posting information regarding the family fund. Victor left behind Emily, an adoring wife and fantastic mom, and seven beautiful daughters. These are very trying times for the family and any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the memorial; it was very touching for me to read. Rock on Victor!

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