Dr. Francis Visconti, Sr. served the Trinidad and Raton area as a physician for 37 years and died on Oct. 24 at Springs Ranch Memory Care in Colorado Springs at the age of 96. He left a long and lasting legacy in the area and beyond and his family is organizing a community memorial service for him at the A.R. Mitchell Museum at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1.
Visconti is survived by his wife, Josephine and three sons, Francis, Alex and Mark.
Visconti was born on Sept. 15, 1923 in Union City, New Jersey. A WWII veteran, he survived six combat tours during the war as a 50-caliber machine gunner.
Following the war, Visconti played football at Western State in Gunnison and met Trinidad native Bill Concilia. That relationship would result in Visconti coming to Trinidad as a doctor and surgeon following his medical training.
Visconti’s son Mark recalls his father said, “He never saw a town that needed a surgeon more.”
Visconti worked as a surgeon, coroner and county medical officer at different points in his career in Trinidad. His private practice was located in a couple of locations on Main Street in Trinidad from 1967 to 2004. He acted as a surgical resident at Mt. San Rafael Hospital from 1967 to the mid-70s and he delivered hundreds of Trinidad residents born in the hospital. After leaving Mt. San Rafael, Visconti worked at what is now Miner’s Colfax County Medical Center as a doctor, surgeon and medical director until 2007.
Regarding his former office at 1316 E. Main St. (now the Social Security offices), son Mark said, “With [raising] three very exuberant boys, we all spent many days there, being stitched and casted back together on many occasions.”
Visconti was a contemporary and colleague of Dr. Stanley Beiber and Visconti’s family said early consultations and research by Visconti helped kick start Beiber’s work in sexual reassignment surgery. The two colorful men are said to have been at odds often, though they respected each other.
“Not unknown in Trinidad, my father had many ‘other’ issues with Dr. Beiber and reasons for leaving Mt. San Rafael not related to the sexual reassignment, but he also said ‘Stanley’ was courageous, hard working, willing to take risks and a better business person than he,” Mark said.
Outside of his profession, Visconti was known for his involvement in Little League and his support of Trinidad School District No. 1 and Trinidad State education and athletics.
In 2002 Visconti was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the Mediterranean and European theatres of WWII. During his award ceremony, covered by The Raton Range, Visconti recounted one of the several times he rescued a man during the war.
During his tour in the city of Cassino in Italy, enemy artillery fire destroyed a field kitchen that fed soldiers. “I knew somebody had to be in trouble,” said Visconti. “I could see smoke and debris and people were running away and some running toward the building.” Visconti rushed to help and worked to free a man while shells continued to fall. “Earth was coming up all around me. I thought, ‘this is the place I am going to die.’”
Visconti saw a foot protruding from wreckage and he and others worked to free a soldier identified as Bill Wyman. When asked about event, Visconti said, “You don’t know you care for people that much.”
Care for humanity in all forms seems to have been central to Visconti’s life. To close the article referenced above, Visconti told The Range, “To have lived my life as a physician in general practice in a rural community is a greater reward than receiving the Nobel Prize as a scientist, or a medal of honor as a service man. I am most grateful for the life I’ve spent as a physician.”