At 104, long-time Eureka restaurateur "still cooking" after hip surgery

For over 50 years, Evo Fanucchi tended bar at the family restaurant – Roy’s Club Italian Food in Old Town Eureka, a Humboldt County landmark that opened in 1919. After his brother passed in 1991, Evo took over sole ownership and moved to the “back of the house”, assuming duties as cook.

When the well-loved restaurant served its last plate of chicken parm in 2017, Evo had logged more than 76 years in the restaurant business. That’s a lot of time on his feet. And knees. And hips. So much so, Evo needed both hips replaced in his 80s. Now, at the tender age of 104, Evo is recuperating after another hip surgery, this time a “redo” of his right hip back in September that he had done at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka.

“When I had the first surgery in San Francisco, they said my hips would last for another 20 years,” quipped Evo from his home in Eureka, where, up until his surgery, he was still active in his garden. “We didn’t know I would need them longer.”

Since that original surgery, Evo began to experience pain in his right leg, and it became clear that something needed to be done to maintain his quality of life. He and his wife Catherine wondered if another surgery was an option at his age.

“A lot of doctors would not take him on because of his age,” said Catherine, Evo’s wife of 51 years. “Dr. Ziegler, our family physician, said that Evo was low risk, however. That’s when we went to see Dr. Haight.”

Dr. Haight is Holly Haight, M.D., a Stanford trained joint replacement specialist for Providence Medical Group in Humboldt County. Dr. Haight arrived in February and has made a huge impact on knee and hip replacement patients in Humboldt County in her short time here.

“When Evo came to me with a hip replacement that was clearly wearing out, I said NO,” remarked Dr. Haight. “A revision is a much larger operation, and for someone who is in their 100’s, it seems that the risk is not worth the benefit.”

According to Dr. Haight, she met with Evo and Catherine on multiple occasions explaining that “lots of things can go wrong with any kind of surgery” and that “someone who is over 100 the risk is high, even if they are healthy.”

But Evo plowed ahead and even called upon Dr. Ziegler to reach out to Dr. Haight. It was an “impassioned, two-page letter” from Dr. Ziegler, along with Evo and Catherine’s persistence, that ultimately led Dr. Haight to agree to do the total hip revision. After several more “long discussions”, Dr. Haight agreed.

“They understood (the risk) and were willing to accept (it),” said Dr. Haight.

“Dr. Haight is very intelligent,” said Evo. “She was concerned about the length of surgery time, but everything worked out fine.”

So fine, in fact, Evo was back climbing stairs the day after surgery and says that his mobility is improving every day. His secret to his long and active life?

“I wake up every day at 5am and look forward to my physical therapy, my friends who come and visit me, and getting out to my garden.”

Not a bad recipe for a rich and flavorful life.

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