Stephen “Steve” Donald Cetrulo

Stephen “Steve” Donald Cetrulo

Was born in March 1942 in Newark, NJ and was the oldest of 4 children. The Cetrulo Family was well known for their high achievement in the sport of fencing, and Steve followed in the tradition. During his high school years, Steve and his cousin Gerald led their Barringer HS team to multiple NJ state and National Championships. Steve graduated from Barringer HS in June 1959 and then fenced Saber for an equally talented Team at Columbia College. In 1963, Steve’s senior year at Columbia, Steve’s Columbia team won both the Ivy and National Championships, with Steve gaining All-Ivy and All-American honors.  In the NCAA Championships held in 1963 at the Air Force Academy, Steve placed 2nd in the saber competition against the finest college fencers in the US. Steve’s academic career at Columbia was as accomplished as was his athletic career.  Steve graduated from Columbia’s rigorous Zoology Department where he won a prestigious award as the top student in Zoology, and was among the top 5 students out of the entire class of ’63. Steve put aside his Saber in the Fall of 1963 when he began Medical School and graduated from the New Jersey College of Medicine. Following an Internship at Newark Medical Center in surgery, Steve enlisted in the U.S. Public Health Service and served as the doctor at the Indian Health Services clinic for Taos Pueblo from 1969-1971. It was during this time that he fell in love with Taos and the Pueblo people, who affectionately called him “our doctor”.  After completing his residency at UCLA in cardiac surgery, he returned as a surgeon at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, where he would go on to practice for over 50 years. His dedication to his patients was evidenced in his compassion, work ethic and unstoppable energy. His former patients often recount how Dr. C would hold their hands while sharing good news or bad and was known to give them cheek kisses (even though it was against the rules).  For decades, he made sure to check on all his patients at 7 AM every morning; he would plow the road from his mountain home to the freeway multiple times a night during snowstorms to ensure he would be available for emergency surgeries. For an entire year in the mid-1980’s, he was the only surgeon in town. That year, every baby delivered by Cesarean section in Taos County was brought into the world by Dr. Cetrulo. In addition to being a talented surgeon, Steve was a phenomenal athlete and loved to be outdoors. Although his love for rock climbing is what initially drew him to Taos, he became an expert downhill skier, taught generations of Cetrulos to ski, and was a great friend to many of the Taos Ski Valley early pioneers. In addition, he became a big wave windsurfer, an aerial acrobatic pilot,a mountain biking enthusiast, a blues guitar player and achieved his 3rd degree black belt in TaeKwonDo. Steve applied the same dedication to both his profession and his passions. He would exercise religiously every day, constantly study new surgical techniques, read books and practice new techniques in martial arts, avionics and windsurfing, and take classes to improve his Spanish when speaking to patients. He made his closest friends while pursuing his passions, so it is no surprise that they would include a collection of like-minded brothers: skiing icons, martial arts masters, avid windsurfers and aerial daredevils. He found joy and peace in splitting wood, taking drives in his hot rod over the La Veta Pass, repairing his trucks, taking long hikes with his dogs and enjoying a New Mexico sunset on his porch. His family knows him as Dad or Papa and will miss his infectious laughter, incredible storytelling and endless amounts of love and support. He is survived by his wife, Linda, brother, Lawrence (and wife Lynn), his daughters Kristi (and husband Cole), Jeanne and Sara, and his son Giancarlo (and wife Brenda). He also leaves 4 grandchildren (Sirus, Sophia, Eva, and Delilah) and two dogs (Maggie and Bessie). There will be an outdoor memorial when the weather warms up. In lieu of flowers or presents, please make a donation to Stray Hearts Animal Shelter in Taos, NM and don’t forget to get out and vote! Arrangements by Rivera Family Funeral Home, Taos.  To share a memory, please visit our website at

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(4) entries

Liz Fox

One of my favorite humans ever. I will miss you Dr. Cetrulo! Taos will not be the same without you.

Victoria Beals

My mother worked at the Pueblo with him, I babysat his children. Later he saved my life. Took amazing care of me for my 4 month stay at holy cross. He was an amazing man. I remember wolves got into a sheep pen at the Pueblo, he was up all night sewing up animals. He was one of a kind. He will be missed.

Diane Seguin

Dr. Cetrulo was a kind and wonderful man. I will never forget the compassion he showed to my husband when my husband was very sick.

Amie Johnson

RIPI My Friend. You are greatly missed.

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