In memoriam of our coworker, occupational therapist, Vic Zucarello.

Vic Zuccarello

Jan 18, 1960 – Aug 4, 2020


It is with sadness and heavy hearts that we, the staff at Axes Physical Therapy, bid farewell to our respected colleague and long-time friend, Vic Zuccarello. For many in the St. Louis region and beyond, the news of Vic’s passing came as a shock, an untimely reminder of the fragility of life.

While overcome with a sense of loss, in having several days to speak with multiple friends and colleagues of Vic, the goodness of this man has come to the forefront. Universally, the statement used to describe Vic’s contributions over the years was “pioneer.” And, as the pioneers before him that moved into unchartered territory with courage, passion, and perhaps a bit of bravado, Vic did the same by truly revolutionizing the rehabilitation marketplace in St. Louis and the Midwest. Armed with his clipboard, a pen behind his ear, his trusty hand dynamometer, and an acute passion for the “Why” behind his work, Vic impacted thousands of lives over the years. Whether it was designing a return to work program for a motivated injured worker or identifying and assisting those not quite as motivated, and giving them that extra “push” needed to unlearn their maladaptive coping behaviors, Vic operated with a keen clinical eye and a research backed critical mind.

In 2005, Vic developed the Bio-Ergonomics © FCE model, based on biopsychosocial theory, which evolved into a heavily researched and highly defensible FCE model that he continued to use until recently in 2020. Over 15 years, he didn’t stand still, content with having developed this model. But rather, he used countless opportunities to learn and improve his craft, all while sharing this knowledge with others.

Over the past year while working with Vic at Axes, we began to see a more circumspect person and co-worker. While always willing to share his opinion, his legacy was cemented by not “telling others” but by “teaching others.” This had become plainly evident, especially in the last year, as Vic seemed determined to live his “why” each day. He talked with us often about his “Jerry McGuire mission statement” moments during his life. Here was a co-worker who had become more to us. A man, a mentor, a friend – we had the opportunity to share some deep conversations about life, connection with others and a love for what we do over a few laughs and a glass of wine.

Mr. Victor Zuccarello, we cherish our memories of you and celebrate your countless contributions to all of us. You made us better rehabilitation providers, and more importantly, better people. On behalf of your friends and colleagues at Axes Physical Therapy and in the medical, insurance and legal market in St. Louis, we wish you God Speed. Rest in peace, friend.

We will miss you…

Vic will be memorialized in a private ceremony with his close family.

For those wishing to honor Vic’s life, contributions can be made in his honor to the American Cancer Society.

6 Responses
  1. Carole Malek

    Beautiful verbal capture of this humble and kind man who graced this earth. His passion will live on in the many people he helped, educated and came in contact with both professionally and personally. Vic would be touched by your kind words.

  2. Janet VanDerBeck

    I’ve known Vic for roughly 25 yrs. and was shocked to hear of his passing. He will definitely be missed in the rehab world. He was the best at what he did and everyone respected him. I can easily say I’ve been blessed to have our paths crossed. You had a gentle soul and great outlook on life. Rest in peace Vic. I know you are smiling down on your loved ones.

    1. Betty Brooks, RN, BSN, CCM

      My thoughts and prayers to Vic’s family. I, too, am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. I enjoyed working with Vic on FCEs in SE Missouri for many years and appreciated his high level of professionalism. He was also a good friend. Rest In Peace, Vic.

  3. Kim Voss

    Thank you for sharing your words and feelings with us all. A beautiful summary of such gentle soul that he was. Rest In Peace Vic🙏

  4. Debi White

    I’m so sad to hear about the unexpected passing of Vic. I worked with Vic as a case manager for over 25 years and I followed him to every company he worked joined. He was the Gold Standard of physical therapy. He never quit learning and had more credentials behind his name than anyone I know. But even more importantly, he never quit teaching! He taught me so much through the years. I will forever be grateful for knowing him. Vic, you will be missed. 💔

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