Anthony Leonard Pelonero

February 16, 1957July 16, 2021

Anthony Leonard Pelonero, MD, MBA, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Anthony L. Pelonero MD was born in Paterson, New Jersey, to Leonard and Rosary Pelonero on February 16, 1957. He lost his over six year battle with a rare sarcoma on July 16, 2021. He is survived by his wife of nearly 39 years, Jo Ann. He is also survived by son, Alex and daughter-in-law Katherine Pelonero, and their daughter Caramia Sophia and son Anthony George of Ashburn, Virginia; his son, Lee Stephen Pelonero; his daughter, Theresa Rose Pelonero of Richmond Virginia; his sister, Sharon Kessinger and her husband Steven of Midlothian, Virginia; nephews, Charlie and Michael; his brother, Steven and wife Patricia of Little Falls New Jersey and their son Steven; and his brother, Michael Pelonero of Houston, Texas and his children Marisa Bible and Michael Pelonero and their families. Dr. Pelonero earned his undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1979 and his medical degree in 1983 at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Medical School, which is now the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. Tony returned to Richmond for his internship and psychiatric residency. In 1987 Dr. Pelonero became faculty at VCU and served as a teacher, researcher, and clinician. Dr. Pelonero published numerous scientific articles and book chapters on psychiatric topics, with a focus on the illness schizophrenia. Dr. Pelonero‘s career evolved into healthcare administration when he became the medical director of Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia. He continued to teach and do clinical work while an administrator and volunteered at Crossover Healthcare Ministries’ free health clinic for many years until his health would not allow it. He also had many productive years as a medical director at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield where he always strove to be collaborative with practitioners and be responsive to those needing to access their healthcare benefits. Tony’s thoughts to add here for friends and family are as follows: “I had a great life! I was blessed with parents who loved and nurtured me and I fulfilled my dreams of becoming a husband, father and physician. I was thrilled to become a grandfather. During my life I got to be a coach, teacher, researcher, published author and life-long student. I spent many hours on the racquetball court competing and was proud to be a local racquetball champion in my divisions. I was blessed with a wonderful wife who loved me and cared for me to the end. She was my best friend. We hiked in national parks across the United States and treasured being in the mountains and wilderness. I pray that you can have as happy and fulfilling life as I had. As a physician that died of cancer, I would recommend to all that they consider themselves the #1 patient, and to take care of themselves first. My thanks to the many fine physicians, nurses, and other practitioners that took care of me.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to Crossover Healthcare Ministry, 8600 Quioccasin Rd., Suite 101; Henrico, VA 23229. Also find them at


  • Memorial Gathering

    Thursday, July 22, 2021

  • Visitation

    Thursday, July 22, 2021


Anthony Leonard Pelonero

have a memory or condolence to add?

Paul Ories

July 23, 2021

Tony, you were the first person to welcome me to the Bayport neighborhood in 2014. You made me feel immediately at home, introduced me to your family, offered me a beer and took me out on your boat over Swift Creek Reservoir. Though your time was limited, especially while battling illness, you never missed an opportunity to say hello. I'll miss you dearly. Rest in Peace.

Paul Ories

Marie Zicot

July 23, 2021

Condolences to Joann & Family!
I'm just lost for words. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Tony fought a long battle . He is finally pain
free and at peace.

Roddy Hogg

July 22, 2021

I met Tony nearly two decades ago through racquetball. There were evenings when we played from work until past sundown. Only many occasions, we traveled to tournaments together, often playing as teammates or opponents. He was always approachable and willing to lend a friendly hand in any way possible. He wanted happiness for everyone and I often found solace in his sage advice. At the same time, and through the same sport, I found the love of my life, Jodi Weidler. He was a good friend to both of us and we will miss him dearly. Make sure your reserve us some courts in heaven. You will always be in our hearts.

Anand Pandurangi

July 22, 2021

My association with Tony began when he was a 2nd year psychiatry resident at MCV/VCU. I was impressed by his enthusiasm to learn and agreed to be his mentor. He was a quick learner and hard worker. We had a fruitful and productive relation for the next 10-years during which we published high quality scientific articles on the biology of schizophrenia. We also presented our work at major conferences in San Diego, CA and Santa Fe, NM. We became family friends and spent much time together in each other's house. Tony and I played Tennis together for several years. We went to Kings Dominion many times with our spouses and kids. It was a fun time.
Our paths diverged except for occasional interactions, after he moved to healthcare administration in the private sector, and I remained in academia. He was very thoughtful and recently called me to express his gratitude and say goodbye. It was sad. I wasn't willing to accept that he would soon be gone. I told him how proud I was of his career and accomplishments. We had a good long conversation about his health, our families and the good old days.
Rama, our children Abhi & Ashvin and I will always remember Tony as a smart, warm, endearing and helpful person, bubbling with energy and ideas, someone who cared deeply especially about his family, and also friends, colleagues and patients.
Our deep condolences to Jo Ann, Alex, Lee and Theresa. We are keeping Tony and the family in our thoughts and pray that the good Lord give them strength in this time of grief and mourning. He will be remembered for a very long time to come.

Helen Foster

July 22, 2021

Dear Jo Ann and family,
Tom and I send our sincere condolences. Tony was such a smart, determined, and caring resident. I was deeply touched to hear more about his life since that time long ago when when our lives intersected. Much love to you all. Helen Foster

John Urbach

July 21, 2021

Dear Jo Ann and family, I am truly sorry to hear about Tony's passing. He was a great guy, an excellent physician and psychiatrist, and a very caring person. We met when I came to Richmond in 1984 to become residency director for psychiatry at MCV. He was already in the program, and one source of its strength. His subsequent career attests to his commitment and ability. I was very happy to read that he did so many wonderful things in recent years. His own personal statement is gracious and generous. My sincere condolences for your loss. Best regards, John Urbach

Carolyn R. Smith-Harris

July 21, 2021

Best memory of Dr. P was riding with him to the various hospitals when we use to do onsite retro reviews. I had been told he had a particular thing he did when he drove. I didn't believe it until I actually saw it...scared me to pieces. He read a book all the way to Newport News Va. Book on the stirring wheel,keeping up with traffic. He was a great Dr. , He will be missed.

Shelly Dietrich

July 21, 2021

When I think of Anthem, I think of Tony (Dr. Pelonero). He was on the team of people who first interviewed (and hired) me in December of 2006… and I will never forget initially being so nervous to start work on my first day, as a 34 year old LCSW, with only approx. 5 years of managed care experience under my belt. But Tony quickly made me feel like I belonged there, and that there was a REASON I was hired… and I’ve remained working there ever since. I learned so much from him and I feel truly blessed to have worked for and known such a wonderful person and doctor. He really did love his wife and children so much and spoke of them all the time! I even had the privilege of meeting his daughter and wife one year, when my daughter and I were invited to go watch the Fourth of July fireworks with the Peloneros on their boat!! That was an amazing experience that my now 22 year old daughter still remembers. Tony will be missed by so many; but, also made such a lasting impression on, and helped so many people, myself included. I will keep his wife JoAnne, and children in my prayers,

Ann Odehnal

July 21, 2021

My condolences on your loss. I met Tony at work. We were not in the same department but were in the same building. We had coffee together on occasion where he sometimes lectured me on the health benefits of his 'yoke-free three-egg omelet.' Tony was aggressively interested in everything, always posing questions and offering opinions at the speed of light. Gratefully, our talks didn't always involve work, mostly we talked family, racquetball, omelets, weekends and interests. His perspective always made my workday richer.

Emidio Pizzoferrato

July 20, 2021

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