Dr. Edward O. Leitao passed away on February 4, 2015, after a courageous fight with bladder cancer. Ed was a dear friend and colleague who served Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) for several decades as a well-respected internist and medical director.
Ed was born in Portugal in 1948 and, with his three brothers, spent very pleasant childhood years in the Azores, where their father served as a provincial government official. Seeking more opportunities for the boys, the family moved to Somerville when Ed was a teenager. It was here that Ed would meet Laura Tatosky, his future devoted wife of over 45 years. After serving his new country in Vietnam [aboard the USS SAVAGE], Ed pursued premedical studies graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 1978. He graduated medical school from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1983. Ed completed an internship at Waltham and Brigham & Women’s Hospital and subsequently joined the Cambridge Hospital as a medical resident in 1985, where he would become a longtime member of the Department of Medicine.
Upon finishing his internal medicine residency, he joined the Cambridge medical staff in 1987 and served as a staff physician at the East Cambridge Neighborhood Health Center. Ed’s practice grew rapidly, especially among the Portuguese-speaking community, and he became highly respected, beloved, and sought after by numerous patients and their families. In 1992, Ed became the medical director of the East Cambridge clinic, overseeing its growth and, a few years later, its successful move to its present-day location on Gore Street. He continued to serve in that role until 2000. At CHA, Ed was known for his care and sincere dedication to his patients as well as his fierce loyalty to his friends and colleagues.
In 2003, Ed left CHA to join the United States Air Force as a medical officer and to have the chance to work and live in Tampa, Florida. However, in 2005, Ed returned to CHA briefly to be close to and assist his brother Mario who was facing serious health issues. When he left CHA for good, former patients and members of the East Cambridge community would for years continue to lament that their much-loved Portuguese doctor had moved on, and they would always ask to send along their best wishes. Ed spent the remainder of his medical career with the Veteran’s
Administration, eventually getting the opportunity to join the St. Augustine Administration (VA) and return to Florida, which reminded him of his youth in the Azores.
During his last eight years, Ed would face one of the most difficult challenges for any physician and found that he was also a patient facing a cancer diagnosis. He fought bladder cancer admirably and courageously, and despite numerous procedures, difficult treatments, and setbacks along the way, he never complained and remained incredibly positive and fearless until the end. Because of his spirit and example of continuing to live life fully, we can truly say that Ed beat the cancer in most respects. He continued to work at the VA until reaching full retirement age, spend quality time with his family, travel regularly to Portugal and actively serve the Portuguese Club of Palm Coast, Florida, in several roles, including Assembly President.
Ed is survived by his loving family: his mother in Portugal, his wife Laura; daughters, Renee and Michelle and grandson Joel. He is extremely missed by his many friends and colleagues in New England, Florida, and Portugal.
[Biography provided by the Massachussets Aliance of Portugese Speakers.]