Augustine Joseph “Joe” D’Ercole, M.D. died on December 21, 2023 at home in Chapel Hill, NC after a battle with cholangiocarcinoma surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his beloved spouse of 52 years, Virginia (Weyant), his children Ethan (Melinda, Chicago, IL) and Jed (Nicole, Washington, DC), and grandson (Will). He was predeceased by his parents, a son (Seth), and the other members of his extended family.
Joe was born March 20, 1944 in Salt Lake City, UT. His father, Augustine Dominic D’Ercole, served as a Lieutenant in the Army specializing as a chemist. His mother, Margarita Assunta “Susan” Gonnella D’Ercole was a trained X-ray technician and research associate to a radiologist. Following his father’s discharge from the Army, the family returned to their hometown of Springfield, MA before relocating several times while his father advanced in his career as a food technologist at General Foods. They lived in Lyons and Albion, NY, Lakeland, FL, where Joe attended elementary school through second year of high school, and then White Plains, NY where he graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in 1961. Joe graduated from the University of Notre Dame, B.A., in 1965 and Georgetown School of Medicine, M.D., in 1969. He completed Pediatric Residency in 1972 at Tufts New England Medical Center – Boston Floating Hospital followed by two years as a Public Health Service Officer assigned to the Environmental Protection Agency in Stoneville, MS.
Joe completed his fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976 and joined the faculty of the UNC School of Medicine and rapidly climbed to tenured-professorship in Pediatrics. He remained on faculty until his 2011 retirement. During his tenure he was active in clinical care, teaching, and research, as well as administration. His research focused in large part on the actions of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), was funded by the NIH for over 35 years, and resulted in over 150 peer-reviewed reports of IGF-I's role in multiple tissues and organs including fetal growth and brain development and functions. His research was recognized by the E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research. He also authored over 50 book chapters and/or invited manuscripts. Through the years, he served on many university, medical school, and professional society committees. He was Chairman of the Pediatric Endocrinology sub board of the American Board of Pediatrics, held the Harry S. Andrews Distinguished Professorship in Pediatrics, and sat on numerous NIH study sections and editorial boards for scientific journals. He was Chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology from 1998 to 2008.
Joe had many outside interests, which became the focus of his life post-retirement. He was an avid reader, an amateur photographer (especially of birds), a cook, a genealogist, and writer. He wrote and published a novel, “Circling the Past”, which explored 300 years of family history and how it related to his own life. He was a fist-pumping Bruce Springsteen fanatic and a serious student of rock n’ roll. He was immensely proud of his eldest son’s music and art career. He took great pride in his youngest son’s career working for the U.S. Congress and the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. Joe loved to travel with his beloved wife and while on the road he proudly sought out the most authentic cuisine and learned from it in his own dishes. A family favorite was his paella with locally sourced ingredients, including clams harvested by him and his grandson on Planting Island (Marion, MA). Joe fully embraced a lifelong passion for the University of Notre Dame; the school, the atmosphere, and most certainly Fighting Irish Football. He never missed a game, and win or lose, it was important to him.
His friends and family will remember his sharp wit and dry humor; his ability to distill the most mundane into something funny for the ages. Most of all, he loved his family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Doctors Without Borders in Joe’s memory.