William J. Casarella

William Joseph Casarella passed away on February 2, 2024, at the age of 86. He was with his loving wife, Kay Vydareny and his children, Jennifer and Greg Casarella.

William, known as Bill, was born in Scranton, PA, to his Italian immigrant parents, Rocco and Madeline Casarella, on November 17, 1937. He spent most of his childhood in West Trenton, NJ, where he lived in a house his father built, with his parents and older brother, Joseph, who passed away last year. Bill was chosen as the recipient of a scholarship from his community to The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, NJ, an experience which he believed changed his life path. He graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1959 and from Harvard Medical School in 1963.

After finishing a rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a residency in Internal Medicine at Boston City Hospital, Dr. Casarella entered the U.S. Army for two years, as a flight surgeon, stationed in Korea.

He completed a diagnostic radiology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, and remained on the medical staff there for 11 years, rising to become Professor of Radiology and chief of the Cardiovascular Radiology section, a position he held for 11 years. During this time, he helped to develop non-surgical techniques to treat a variety of clinical problems; he was known as an expert in the treatment of gastrointestinal bleeding, becoming one of the first physicians to use interventional techniques, rather than surgery, to treat the cause of the bleeding, saving many lives. The techniques which he helped pioneer are used routinely in cardiology, vascular surgery and neurosurgery today.

After he was recruited by Emory University in 1981 as the Chairman of the Radiology Department, Dr. Casarella began building a legacy of achievements that included expanding the departmental faculty and facilities and building one of the country’s premier radiology residency training programs. During his 22 years at Emory, he was a beloved and respected physician, administrator, and friend.

Dr. Casarella cared deeply about Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital and the importance of delivering exceptional medical care to everyone. He was named Executive Associate Dean at Emory Healthcare in 2000 with responsibility for Grady. He served on many Grady committees and was instrumental in raising the necessary funds to build Grady into the amazing institution it is today.

Dr. Casarella was one of the founding members of the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (now known as the Society of Interventional Radiology). Among his numerous leadership positions in many Radiology organizations, he served as president of the American Board of Radiology, the American Roentgen Ray Society and the Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology. His many contributions to the field of Radiology were recognized by receiving Gold Medals from the American College of Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America, the American Roentgen Ray Society and the Society of Interventional Radiology as well as being a recipient of the Salute to Excellence from Morehouse School of Medicine.

Along with publishing more than 100 research articles and numerous book chapters, Dr. Casarella served as a manuscript reviewer for many scientific journals.

He retired in 2013 and spent his time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking Italian food, playing golf, and reading. He had numerous interests, including aviation, history and sports. He was known for his love of conversation, his deep knowledge of many subjects, his generosity and good humor. He was an excellent teacher and mentor to many and loved sharing stories of his past experiences as a clinician, his knowledge of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, management and basic science. His contribution to the next generation of physicians will continue since he donated his body to Emory Medical School.

He is survived by his wife, Kay Vydareny; his children, Greg and Jennifer Casarella and her husband, Timothy Hanes; their mother, Carolyn Casarella; Kimm Lambert and husband, Trey; Todd Vydareny and wife, Jennifer; and Kris Vydareny and wife, Whitney. He was known as Pops, Pots and Grandpa Bill to his 10 grandchildren, Anne, Ben and Kate Hanes, Kolton and Kegan Lambert, Maya and Madison Vydareny, Bailey, Lilly and Piper Vydareny; and felt close to his niece and nephew, Jocelyn Canzano and Jason Casarella.

There will be a Celebration of Life at a later date. His memory can be honored with a donation in his name to the Grady Foundation.

Published by Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Feb. 8 to Feb. 11, 2024.