Diosdado P. Non, Jr. MD
February 10, 1937 – August 23, 2020
It was easy to wonder about Diosdado Non Jr.’s recollections.
One of his sons once expressed doubts to one of his father’s sisters-in-law: "If you believe his stories, you'd think he was The Man back in the day.”
Without missing a beat, she replied matter-of-factly: "He was."
Even a streamlined version of his life covers a range of experiences few can claim. Born on Feb. 10, 1937, he was not quite 5 years old when the Philippines was invaded, and spent a good chunk of his childhood in the jungle hiding and fleeing from the Japanese military; "Lots of running, running, running," he recalled. The experience taught him some survival skills that he never lost -- even in middle age, he could catch a bird with his bare hands for a meal later.
He was 11 when his father, a civil engineer, uprooted the family and moved from the main northern island of Luzon to help build a new town in what was then a largely unsettled jungle of southern Mindanao. He grew up in the construction industry working under his disciplinarian father and alongside his younger siblings, a group that ultimately included seven brothers and a sister.
After graduating from the Notre Dame School of Marbel in 1954, he attended the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and returned home in 1960 as a surgeon, working at the local hospital under the man who would become his father-in-law. Diosdado succeeded him as administrator within a few years and married his oldest daughter at a wedding that he later claimed was attended by 2,000 people; the number has never been verified, but photos of the affair show a massive crowd in and around the church.
As the top doctor, he overhauled the rural hospital by introducing practices such as the use of general anesthesia and installing modern beds and lights. Somehow, while running the hospital, working long hours as a practicing physician and surgeon, and starting a family, he found time to try to help start a credit union, buy a small bus company and launch a local newspaper that occasionally ruffled a few feathers. All before the age of 32.
He emigrated in 1969 to the United States with his wife Priscilla and their 2-year-old son, living in Philadelphia. The couple started again as medical interns — he also worked as a janitor on the side to help make ends meet — and expanded their family, with their daughter born months after their arrival in America, and a younger son born in 1971. When the time came to choose a specialist residency, Diosdado opted for a new career as a pathologist, noting that the hours were better than a surgeon’s.
He spent the next few years working in Philadelphia as a resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital while his wife resumed her profession as a pediatrician, and they moved into a suburban home. But just as the Nons seemed settled in the United States, Priscilla developed brain cancer and died in 1974.
When he became a board-certified pathologist, he went to work at Freehold Area Hospital, in central New Jersey, where he met Christine, who would marry him in 1976.Not long after their wedding, they bought a medical laboratory in Ocean County, N.J. It became the family business, with Diosdado as director and Christine as manager, though he continued as a hospital pathologist in Philadelphia for several years while also working at his own lab.
Yet for all the time spent on his profession, he never stopped indulging his real devotion: working with his hands. Growing up in construction instilled a lifelong passion in him, and after he and Christine moved to an old farm in central New Jersey in 1978, he devoted much of his free time repairing, tinkering and building, with his weekends occupied by saws, drills, wrenches and hammers. If he wasn’t clearing out and refurbishing spaces in his barns, he was re-roofing them, or designing new windows, or fixing something in the heaps of old equipment that he acquired. He overflowed with ideas for projects, from building new windows for the barns, to planting rows and upon rows of saplings for a tree farm, or, late in his life, trying to farm crawfish. If most of them never quite panned out, the effort was still worth it for him because it was effort -- for Diosdado, activity was a virtue in itself. “They work hard” always remained among his highest praises for someone.
As his father did with him, he made sure to keep his kids involved in his activity, not only to instill that work ethic, but also simply to spend time with them. Outside of school or homework, if they weren’t cleaning the house, helping him cook on weekends or tending to the gardens, they spent most of their weekends and summers at his side in the barns, or helping him and Christine at the lab.
But he also shared with them an interest that he only acquired after coming to America: football. He never saw the sport until he left the Philippines, but it didn’t take long to get him hooked, particularly on Notre Dame football -- he was, after all, a graduate of a Notre Dame high school. He never stopped rooting for the Fighting Irish, which led to a long interest in the San Francisco 49ers because of Joe Montana and the Washington Redskins for Joe Theismann, although he eventually came around to Christine’s devotion to the New York Giants. (But not until Montana was long retired.)
Even when age slowed him as he underwent triple bypass surgery and endured several treatments for cancer, Diosdado stayed busy. He grew vegetables in a large greenhouse, refurbished old microscopes and lamps, set up large vats for the crawfish, and filled his yard with heavy equipment such as a tree remover that he spent more repairing than actually using. And he never stopped working as a pathologist, reading slides every morning until the day he went to the hospital for the last time. He died Aug. 23, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Christine; three children: Diosdado, Priscilla and Sergio, and their spouses Naomi, Rodney and Maria; four granddaughters: Rina, Alisa, Hana and Elizabeth; and six siblings: Teofilo, Lourdes, Alberto, Celso, Daniel and Alfredo; and many nieces and nephews.
Donations in his name can be sent to Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 New York Ave, New York NY 10065; Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, 701 Memorial Drive Suite 1, Asbury Park, NJ 07712; and Help Heal Veterans, P.O. Box 5025, Hagerstown MD 21741.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Diosdado P. Non, Jr. MD
Philomena McEnery Salgado
September 14, 2020
We are so sorry to hear about Dr. Non. He always came into the office with a smile and a funny story to tell. We miss his kindness and warm heart. It was our pleasure working with him. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
The girls at Doctor Robert Rosens
September 3, 2020
I will miss Tito Dadong's infectious laugh. His laughter would fill the room, and I will alway have that vivid memory of him at a family party. He was my godfather, my only godfather in fact, and although I chose to not attend his beloved University of Notre Dame, he amused me with his rivalry banter when Michigan would play against ND in football. If it wasn't for Tito Dadong and Chris - my husband, Bob, may not have been accepted into a medical residency program and be where he is today as a physician. Bob and I owe a debt of gratitude for giving Bob a job at the lab while applying for a medical residency spot. They also allowed Bob to take a considerable amount of time off for our wedding in Hawaii. We are thankful that Tito Dadong was able to attend the wedding with Chris and that he was one of our sponsors. We're also thankful for the times that Tito Dadong and Chris visited us in California and spent time with our kids. (2016 we watched the World Series with them when the Chicago Cubs broke "the curse of the Billy Goat." A great memory will have forever!) Our hearts are hurting as we miss Tito Dadong, but we are thankful that he left us a rich legacy! He is an inspiration to us and our family. We hope we can live our lives to the fullest as much as he did!
F.Apollo M. Arenas
August 27, 2020
Kuya Dado was much more than any story could ever tell. He was a decent man, good in every way. This was a man who knew life and lived it as full and as well-meaning as any man ever can. Anybody who knew him would have picked up something from him to add to their own lives. I will continue to see him in any good man I come across.
August 26, 2020
I will never forget you Dr. Non, nor the life you helped me create. You were a father figure at a time in life when my own father was extremely busy trying to get his own life in order. Much like my own father, I had the utmost admiration and respect for you, and will never forget everything you've done for me. You were strong, brave, talented, creative, brilliant and successful, but most importantly, kind-hearted. Until we meet again, my dear friend. ♥️
August 25, 2020
Tito Dado was a man who was full of energy and someone who loved to talk about a project you were working on or showing you a project he was working on, I truly respected the man after chatting with him about the new solar project he was working on at his home which he really didn’t need to do undertake and I respected him for being a hard working man that was always working on improving America with his actions and enjoyed sharing them with others and for that I thank you Tito. God bless you