YARMOUTH — Robert William Scarlata, 77, of Yarmouth, died suddenly on Jan. 12.
Scarlata was born in Boston on Aug. 26, 1937. He enjoyed dancing, and at one time was the jitterbug champion of the city. But from a young age, he loved figuring out how things “worked.” He spent many days tinkering with automobiles, and at one point he owned 11 cars, each in a different state of repair. Eventually, his interests shifted to the workings of the human body, foreshadowing his career as a physician.
After graduating from Boston College High School, he received a degree in biology at Boston University. Working at the Shattuck Hospital, he fell in love with a Swiss woman who would become his wife, Jacqueline. The two moved to Louvain, Belgium, and there Robert graduated, cum laude, from Catholic University Medical School.
Upon returning to North America from Europe, Scarlata and his family called many places home: Canada, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina and Maine.
In Maine, he served as medical director of The Pineland Center for 10 years. With an enduring love for children and compassion for patients and their families, Scarlata was always “on call” and never stopped learning in order to be of better help to others, especially in the area of medical genetics.
Scarlata was a member of the Association on Mental Deficiency, the Pinetree Epilepsy Association’s board of directors, the Tri-County Health Planning Agency, the Oxford County and Maine medical associations, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In addition to his medical degree, he earned a master of science degree in education at the University of Southern Maine. He served as assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Medical School, and authored numerous publications exploring metabolism, biochemistry, cytogenetics, epilepsy and developmental disabilities. He was elected to the American Epilepsy Society for his work in the field.
Scarlata is predeceased by his brother, Thomas Scarlata, and brother-in-law, Matthew Spinazzolo.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jacqueline (Glauser) Scarlata; their two children, Vincent and spouse Elizabeth Christopher, and Marina and spouse Perry Herman; and his two grandchildren, Luca and Nicco. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Antoinette Scarlata; sister Jeanette (Scarlata) and husband James Meuse; sister Mary (Scarlata) Spinazzolo; and brother Paul and wife Patricia Scarlata.
A Mass of Christian burial was held Jan. 16 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in Yarmouth, followed by a reception and visitation with the family.