Born in Sant’Elia Fiumerapido, Italy, Arthur DiMambro came to the United States as an infant and grew up in Dover. He became a U.S. citizen at age 25 and served with the Army in Korea before graduating from UNH in three years. After attending the University of Vermont Medical School, he became a respected orthopedic surgeon in Dover and Rochester and provided orthopedic services to UNH students for more than 30 years.
Following DiMambro’s death on July 7, 2016, online messages of condolence to his family included several mentioning his kindness and professional expertise. A former coworker wrote that when an elderly farmer who was unable to afford treatment for his fractured arm paid DiMambro with a large basket of fresh vegetables, “Dr. D accepted it gladly and called it even.” A couple who had met him at a fishing camp recalled, “We had dinner with him several times, and he always regaled us with wonderful stories….It was clear that we were in the presence of a great man, a dedicated physician and a gifted artist.”
Fishing was a lifelong interest, says his daughter Arna Lewis, and he enjoyed trying his luck all over New England and abroad. He especially enjoyed salmon fishing and would have his catch shipped home so he could prepare a gourmet feast for friends. In his younger days he also hunted in the Dover woods and played tennis on the former courts on Main Street in Durham, and he was a great fan of UNH hockey throughout his life.
DiMambro’s love of painting began during a medical internship in Philadelphia. Along with his late wife, Celeste ( Martin) DiMambro ’64, MBA ’88, he became friendly with commercial artist Ed Bates, who encouraged Arthur to try his own hand at painting. After her father attended a showing of Winslow Homer’s work with Bates, “he was hooked,” says Arna. When Arthur completed his internship, the DiMambros returned to Durham, where he opened his medical practice and Celeste obtained her degree in fine arts. The couple became friendly with and took inspiration from many UNH artists, including the late professor John Hatch, whom they enjoyed entertaining.
DiMambro painted whenever his busy medical schedule allowed. After retiring, he had an art studio built in his home and took painting and sculpture classes at the university. The dedication he had once showed his patients he now turned to his art, painting three to six hours a day for the next 25 years. In an interview with a reporter from Seacoastonline.com, he related that he found sculpting relatively easy. “I was a surgeon all my life, working with my hands,” he said. “But painting came very hard.”
His perseverance paid off, and his paintings were hung in numerous galleries throughout New England. With artist Christopher Cook, he had a show of his work in 2001 that focused on the shoreline and islands of Great Bay. He collaborated with artist Alan Rushing ’10G on “The Circus Project,” which included 39 canvases depicting clowns and other circus themes. He especially enjoyed plein air painting along the New Hampshire seacoast and the rugged coast of Maine, and traveled to Italy and Scotland in search of new landscapes to capture on canvas or board. In all, he completed more than 1,000 paintings and was the recipient of several awards.
Arthur and Celeste, who died in 2008, were married for 50 years and raised four daughters, Arna, Kris Coeytaux, Mara Calame and Brett Dickens, in a home on Madbury Road. In 2013, the home was converted into the handsome Durham Public Library, where several Arthur DiMambro paintings, gifts from the artist, grace the walls.
Originally published in UNH Magazine Spring 2017 Issue