May 2024 IL Dental News

Celebrating Dr. Samuel J. Cascio by Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch, ISDS Historian

In addition to the numerous advantages of being a dentist, which certainly includes faithfully serving the persons who choose us to provide their necessary dental care, it would be not easy to fully list them all. However, being fortunate enough to serve the profession through crucial endeavors of organized dentistry must be, for many, at or near the top of the inventory. A whole host of professional and personal rewards also come to mind when I think about time devoted to the service to the public, colleagues, and among the countless individuals affiliated with dentistry, in one form or another. Truly thoughtful, gifted, and selfless people seem to invariably become part of our extended family, a variety of individuals whom we come to value, trust, cherish, and even love. As the Illinois State Dental Society Historian, it has been a distinct privilege for me to not only work alongside many of our most esteemed and trusted colleagues throughout the state and nation but, more importantly, befriend them and hold their friendships near and dear. Over the years, I have written about a few of them, but I am miles away from being able to touch upon, write about, and dutifully offer adequate recognition for most of them. However, for most of us, one distinguished individual that requires no introduction whom I am featuring in this article is our exceptionally esteemed friend, leader and colleague, Dr. Samuel J. Cascio. Samuel J. Cascio, D.D.S., was born on August 27, 1924, the son of the late Joseph and Josephine Cascio. His mother was born in Cefalù, Sicily, and his father in Baltimore, Maryland, both of Italian ancestry. Joseph and Josephine were married at Our Lady of Victory Church on the Northwest Side of Chicago. They became the loving parents of four children: Rose, Viola, Marie, and Sam. Joseph and Josephine were of modest means. Sam’s father was a barber who worked on the 10th floor of the Clark Adams Building in downtown Chicago. However, despite humble earnings and financial challenges, Joseph and Josephine always believed in

and managed to provide their children with a safe, supportive, wholesome home environment and a faith- based Catholic education. Dr. Sam attended Our Lady of Victory Grammar School and went on to Saint Mel High School, receiving a reduced tuition of $5.00 per month instead of $10.00 per month, through a generous arrangement made between Sam’s father and an influential Saint Mel staff person, the principal, Brother James (a member of the De La Salle Order of Christian Brothers). When Sam graduated high school, he went on to Saint Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, an all-men’s institution (it is now coeducational and is called Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota) still located in Winona, Minnesota. Both Saint Mel’s and Saint Mary’s were administrated through the La Salle Christian Brothers. After one year at Saint Mary’s and the nation at war, Sam enlisted in the United States Navy because he thought he would prefer service in the United States Navy rather than being drafted into the United States Army. Upon enlistment and considering himself as being proficient with his hands, as well as harboring a keen interest in health care, Sam requested to be trained in and assigned to the Navy’s Medical Corps, but to his surprise, he was instead assigned and trained as a radioman, serving three and one-half years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He served aboard the USS LST 281. LST, which stands for Landing Ship, Tank, although not as large as an aircraft carrier, was at the time the largest U. S. Navy ship of its specific nature and was explicitly designed to place tanks, troops, and cargo onto hostile beaches. As a result of Sam’s training, he became a master of the Morse Code and developed a proficiency at typing. After receiving an honorable discharge as a radioman second class, Sam returned to completing his education at Saint Mary’s College, utilizing the advantage of funding from the G.I. Bill. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and Biology. One of Sam’s fond extracurricular memories at Saint Mary’s was organizing dances with the nearby women’s college, the College of Saint Teresa. Although the two schools never formally merged, they did experience a coeducational partnership regarding the mutual sharing of some educational programs. Saint Teresa


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