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Dr. Anthony Fauci’s idea of a good time? Hanging with his wife and daughters

The infectious disease specialist who has become a trusted voice in the pandemic always made time for family dinners

President Donald Trump watches as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — By his own admission, Dr. Anthony Fauci is an “absolutely incorrigible workaholic” who routinely works 80 hours a week and is still running more than 3 miles a day at age 79.

When Fauci’s children were young, however, he had an inviolable rule: The family ate dinner together most every night.

That dinner, occurring at 9 or 9:30 p.m., may have been later than his wife of 35 years, bioethicist Christine Grady, and three daughters liked. But the man who has been dubbed “America’s doctor” made the nightly meal a priority, and he once told an interviewer that his “idea of a good time” is being with his wife and children.

Although much has been written about Fauci’s career, which includes advising six presidents and running the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly four decades, less is known about his family life.

But interviews he has given over the years, and comments made by people who know him, make it clear that Fauci’s family life was foundational to his success, not only as an adult, but also in childhood.

Here are five things you might not know about the man who regularly appears with President Donald Trump at White House coronavirus briefings.

He grew up in a close, Catholic family with a strong work ethic.

Fauci’s parents, the children of immigrants from Italy, ran a drug store in Brooklyn, New York, and put their son and daughter to work early on. “I was delivering prescriptions from the time I was old enough to ride a bike,” Fauci said in an interview with Holy Cross Magazine, published by his alma mater, Holy Cross University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

While attending Holy Cross, Fauci spent his summers working in construction in New York, leading to an often-told anecdote about taking a look into the auditorium at Cornell University’s medical college during a lunch break. “After a few minutes at the doorway, a guard came and politely told me to leave since my dirty construction boots were soiling the floor,” he has said. “I looked at him and said proudly that I would be attending this institution a year from now. He laughed and said, ‘Right, kid, and next year I am going to be police commissioner.’”

Fauci did go to medical school at Cornell and graduated first in his class.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stands before President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Monday, April 13, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

He married a nurse who played a joke on him right after they met.

Fauci met Grady when she was asked to serve as a translator in a conversation with a patient from Brazil. She was not intimidated by “the inimitable Dr. Fauci” like other nurses were. “When he came in, I thought, ‘What are they so afraid of him for? He is not so scary,’” she told an interviewer.

With Grady translating, Fauci gave the patient a series of instructions to follow when he was discharged and told him to take it easy. But the patient wasn’t compliant and answered in Portuguese, “You are kidding. I am so sick of being in this hospital. I am going to go home, I am going to dance all night, I am going to go to the beach, I am going to do this,” according to Grady.

“So I turned around to Tony and said, ‘He said he would do exactly as you said.’ I kept a straight face all the time.”

As Donald N.S. Unger reported for Holy Cross Magazine, Fauci later asked Grady to come to his office, and she feared someone had told him what the patient really said.

“As it happened, the inimitable Dr. Fauci just wanted to ask her out on a date,” Unger wrote.

Fauci and Grady, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy and ethics from Georgetown University, were married two years later, in 1985.

He has three daughters who have known academic and professional success.

Alison Fauci works for Twitter as a software engineer and was champion rower at Stanford University, according to Jennifer Fauci holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia universities and is a post-doctoral psychology fellow at Cambridge Health Alliance with a focus on child and adolescent acute services. Megan Fauci earned a degree at Johns Hopkins University and is now an elementary-school teacher in New Orleans, the website reported.

Although Fauci’s daughters sometimes gave him a hard time for working so much, when he was home, he was a fun dad, Jennifer Fauci told The Washington Post in 2007.

“He’s a goofball,’’ she said. “He works hard and he does his thing, but he comes home and he’s singing opera in the kitchen and dancing around.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Washington.
Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

He is respectful of other people, regardless of their jobs.

Introducing Fauci as the winner of the Association of American Physicians George M. Kober Medal in 2007, Dr. John Gallin described him as wise and caring.

“He knows the names of the janitors, elevator operators and animal caretakers. They all love and respect Tony Fauci because he talks with them, never at them. Tony Fauci is the kind of person you know you can call upon whenever you have a need, no matter what that need is,” Gallin said.

He added, “And where do all these wonderful traits come from? I believe they come from his strong upbringing that instilled the importance of family.”

He is energized by his work, but finds fulfillment at home.

“Tony is phenomenally devoted and especially proud of his family, whom, in my opinion, gives him more satisfaction than anything else in life,” Gallin said.

That was confirmed when a writer for The Scientist asked Fauci “What’s your idea of a good time?”

His response: “Being with my wife and children and eating fried calamari, drinking a glass of wine and fishing.”