Dr. Robert B. Iadeluca: Seasoned counselor

By Posted on Jun 11 2014 | By

 Local legend dedicated to improving lives 

Since 1990, clinical psychologist Dr. Robert B. Iadeluca has seen thousands of patients seeking solutions to life’s vexing problems. His career spans over seven decades across a number of fields. Today, at the age of 93, he still sees as many as ten patients a day in his Warrenton office.

Dr. Robert B. Iadeluca

Dr. Robert B. Iadeluca

The man embodies Shakespeake’s “seven ages of man” but with a notable exception: He has never advanced to the final two ages but serves at the Justice level, where he has acquired wisdom through life experiences.

Wisdom used in the service to others.

But who is this man who is recognized daily by residents as he moves purposefully about town working as hard as ever? And how does he do it?

A storied life
Iadeluca was born in 1920 and his mother died when he was nine years old. Those limited early years with her were formative. “She was a strong guiding light; very encouraging to me in everything. I could read at the age of two-and-a-half and was playing the violin at age seven, and the trumpet at age nine on local radio shows.

“When I was 5 years old she took me to the library to get a library card,” he recalls. When the librarian declined to issue him one until he could read, his mother told him to pull any book off a nearby shelf. He did and read the first paragraph aloud. He got his card.

The story is emblematic of the “can do” attitude the good doctor would exhibit throughout his life. Upon his Mother’s death he was largely responsible for running the household since his father was a disabled World War I veteran. “Her early training enabled me to carry on when she was gone,” he states.

His father was a practical man and expected him to achieve whatever his goals were. “Among the many things he taught me was Morse code since he had served in the Signal Corps during the war.” The recollections of life with his parents drives home a truism that Iadeluca firmly believes in; early childhood experiences shape people—for better or worst—for the rest of their lives.

As a young man he did not attend college since graduation from high school was viewed as a good start in those days. After serving in some odds jobs he secured a position with an advertising agency in New York City starting as a delivery boy. His innate intelligence and drive soon brought him to the cusp of a promotion to account executive. Then, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and his life took a new direction.

The war years
“When news of the bombing hit, my reaction was the same as everybody else’s; ‘Where’s Pearl Harbor?’ Nobody had ever heard of it.”

Not waiting to be drafted, the future doctor enlisted in the Army. In talking about his life experiences he frequently cites the month and day an event occurred. Total recall might be pushing it but the man’s memory is impressive. “I clearly remember being sworn into the Army, raising my right hand and taking the pledge. It was June 10, 1942.”

Soon after his induction, his intelligence was again quickly recognized and he was promoted to First Sergeant, the heart and soul of military rank. He was twenty-one years old.

After serving stateside helping a team create the 100th Division, at his request, he was sent overseas. He landed in England and was assigned to the 29th Division—the unit that landed at Normandy—and fought with the 29th in France, Belgium, Holland and finally, Germany.

“To repeat an often used description about combat, it was 90 percent boredom and 10 percent terror,” he says. It also bestowed on him membership in the historically important cohort called “The Greatest Generation”.

As part of his overseas experiences, he met a beautiful French girl. The couple stayed in touch after the war and subsequently married stateside when he realized “she was the one.” They had two sons, one who is still living. She has since died.

Career days
Following his military experience, he accepted a position as a career scout executive with the Boy Scouts of America. He held the position for thirteen years at offices in New York State, New Jersey, Long Island and New York City.

Seeking new challenges, he left his scouting job and became the assistant public relations director with the New York State Department of Education. Within two years, a severe recession led to his loss of the position.

IMG_9044Seeing unemployment as an opportunity—and in concert with his lifelong search for knowledge—at age 52, Iadeluca went back to school and received a PhD in Life Span Developmental Psychology. It took seven years to secure the degree and a few years later he went to work as a research psychologist with the Federal Government.

“When I joined the federal workforce I was sixty years old. Most government workers were retiring by then,” he says. It was also when he moved to Warrenton and for ten years commuted to D.C.

It was a valuable decade of professional experience. He worked at the Army Research Institute on issues involving military families and substance abuse. The expertise he gained would later be brought to bear in his Warrenton practice.

At the age 70, he succumbed to the lure of retirement but quickly realized he was bored. He knew a physiatrist at the University of Virginia. “I contacted him and asked if he’d be interested in having an intern at no charge. He said ‘great!’ so I began commuting to Charlottesville five days a week for a year and a half. I learned even more about substance abuse during the internship.”

Sage advice
IMG_7873In 1990, Iadeluca opened his office on Hospital Hill and began seeing patients daily. Seven years ago he began writing for the The Warrenton Lifestyle magazine. Each month he pens an article on some aspect of mental health and well being.

“It’s almost impossible for a day to go by without somebody stopping me on the street or in the grocery store and commenting on one of the articles. Often they have never met me and only recognize me from my photograph.”

The articles are incisively written and provide advice on emotional issues facing the average person. They are, in fact, a direct extension of his work and an opportunity to sit down with the doctor without making an appointment.

And what are the central issues he hears in his practice? “One of the things I encounter often is the failure of people to communicate with each other. Be it either in a family or employment situation. People do not listen or they assume others know what is going on with them. Frequently, I see patients who are not opening up to the other person.

“I also see substance abuse issues in about fifty percent of my patients. My doctorate centered on the study of the human brain from conception to death,” he says. To that end this past winter he held a seminar for parents that focused on keeping children from becoming addicted to drugs by taking preventive measures in their early childhood.

So does he see retirement in his future? “The interaction with my patients is what keeps me alive,” he says emphatically and he has no plans to take down his shingle.

“I’m not here because I’m healthy. I’m healthy because I’m here.


Substance Abuse 

Pills“There is most definitely an epidemic of substance abuse in Fauquier County,” says Dr. Iadeluca. “And there is a denial by the general public that the problem exists. But if you talk with law enforcement and social services personnel, they’ll agree.”

Strong words from the psychologist who estimates more than fifty percent of his patients suffer from some form of substance abuse. “People say ‘Yes, I hear about the problem but it’s not in my family, it’s not my child’ but often it is. Over fifty percent of my patients suffer from substance abuse and twenty percent are teenagers.”

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users, reinforcing Iadeluca’s observations.

Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Overdose rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990. Most abusers get the pills from a friend or family member who had the initial prescription.

The doctor says school administrators, teachers and parents need to learn more about the subject and be alert to warning signs of abuse among young people. Such signs can include loss of interest in family activities, disrespect for family rules, withdrawal from responsibilities, being verbally or physically abusive and taking valuable items or money from the home.

Iadeluca says the human brain does not become fully developed until age twenty-five, making young people particularly susceptible to abuse issues. “They simply don’t have the strength to inhibit such behavior, especially if they have been traumatized in early childhood.”

Dr. Iadeluca says… 

What drives a nonagenarian to still work 40 hours a week? Is there a secret to a long and active life or is it just plain luck?

Here are a few observations from the good doctor’s philosophy. You decide.

Responsibility builds knowledge:  “When I was a youngster and asked my mother a question, she always said, ‘Look it up!’ And I did.”

Health is paramount:  “When I was studying for my doctorate I read research that said not eating red meat leads to a longer life. So in my late fifties, I decided not to eat meat and gradually tapered off. I’m not a Vegan. I just don’t eat red meat.”

Don’t retire:  “Last year I considered retiring. I thought maybe I was ready. But I went shopping that day and engaged two or three people in conversation. It re-energized me and I realized I had to maintain my practice to stay healthy.”

Express gratitude: “I’ve had a good life but the last twenty years has been the happiest. When I get up in the morning I look forward to going to work.”


An abridged version of this article appeared in the 2014 summer 2014 edition of inFauquier magazine.



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