HISTORY AND LEGACY
In 1913 August Pecaro, the son of Italian immigrants from Palermo, Italy became a proud graduate of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery. Dr. Pecaro went on to gallantly serve WWI for the United States as a Captain in the Army. Little did he know the legacy he would serve to other aspiring dentists of Italian descent beginning after his return to practice as a civilian.
In 1923, Loyola University Chicago acquired the Chicago College of Dental Surgery, and the dental school would continue to graduate dentists until the early 1990's.
In the 1930's, Loyola dental faculty member and dental innovator Dr. John Amenta began a push to help unite professors, practicing dentists, and students alike to build a network and social organization to both further the dental profession and pay homage to their mutual heritage.
A simple meeting and decision by several dental colleagues on a single evening at Dr. Amenta's dining table formalized the mission, and the Arcolians were born.
On April 11, 1935, the Secretary of State of IL, Edward Hughes, issued certificate number 2852 approving the incorporation of the organization. Dr. Pecaro ultimately served as the Arcolian's first president, formalizing the beginning of a tradition among Italian American dentists in Chicago.
Through the efforts of the Arcolians, many Italians in Chicago were inspired to pursue dentistry as a career. For many, this was the pathway to pursue the American Dream, serving as the opportunity to solidify the presence and value of the Italians in America.
Through the tireless efforts of many dedicated individuals, both regard and position of these proud Italian dentists grew. Likewise, the organization also grew substantially, creating a support structure both in the dental schools and community. Within a few short years, membership skyrocketed, and being both a dentist and Italian from Chicago became synonymous with being an Arcolian.
Meetings were social, educational, and always meaningful. Topics discussed at meetings were as formal as studying and reviewing innovations in dentistry to business matters to honoring the successes of individual members, and providing charity to groups in need. Dental students were encouraged to attend meetings. The Arcolian name became both a matter of identity as well as a pathway for growth and advancement into the profession.
The seeds planted in the 1930's had roots that spread deep. By the 1960's and early 1970's, Loyola Dental School's higher administration had many Arcolians among it including Dr. Raffaele Suriano as Dean, and Dr. John Madonia - grandson of Dr. John Amenta - as assistant Dean. They continued to be advocates for a generation of Arcolians starting their careers in the 1980s and 90s.
Now and the Future
As the Arcolians continue to fluorish more than 80 years strong and serve as an organization with members including those from the 1950's to now, to specialists, to current dental students. For many it is still an opportunity for great food, great company, and great education.
We are proud to have had many members serve significant roles in organized dentistry over the last decades. These include but are not limited to leadership roles in the Chicago Dental Society, Illinois State Dental Society, members of dental ADPAC groups, members with professorships at both UIC and Midwestern University, and supporting board members at dental insurance companies. Several of our members are also are prominent in the continuing education circuit, teaching their techniques throughout the nation.
We hold strongly to our origins both as Italians and as members of a proud and noble profession.
As a not-for-profit charitable organization, the Arcolians have, to date, given nearly a quarter-million dollars over the life of the organization to schools, charities, research institutions, and for scholarships to dental students.
Annually, the organization continues to provide CERP/AGD certified continuing education to it's members while serving as a strong network where members can learn, laugh, and grow together.