Dr. Elaine Tuccillo, 66, a clinical psychologist, died at her Hither Hills residence on Nov. 16 of lung cancer. She had been diagnosed with the disease in June.
Though she smoked cigarettes as a young woman, her husband, Dr. Scott Baum, said they were stunned at the diagnosis. “She was a strong, healthy person,” he said.
Dr. Tuccillo was born to Charles Tuccillo and the former Victoria Castiglia on Aug. 17, 1946, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., where she grew up. In 1977, after graduating from Mt. Vernon High School and the State University at Albany, she received a Ph.D. from City College.
“We met in grad school,” Dr. Baum said on Saturday at a family gathering at their Montauk residence. Both were preparing for their first doctoral exams, he said, and found an immediate attraction, both as students and companions. They were soon married and went on to become clinical psychologists, sharing office space together in Manhattan. They lived on the Upper West Side and spent summers in a group rental on Fire Island.
“We were Fire Islanders, paying $3,000 a share,” said Dr. Baum, until it went to $10,000. “We were priced out.”
After a visit with friends in Montauk, they began to look for a house. “She fell in love and said, ‘This is where I want to be.’ We started looking at houses. I was up here and she was down there; she was much more sensible.’ ” When they saw a place on Laurel Drive in Hither Hills, they knew they’d found their home.
“She came to love it so,” said Dr. Baum. She loved walking the beach near the house, he said, and watching sunsets at Lazy Point. “She’d go out there and look up and down the beach and say, ‘I can’t believe we live here.’ ”
Dr. Tuccillo, who loved yard sales, decorated the house with her finds, combining mid-century modern, folk art, and “practical” antiques. She had a creative touch with plants as well. Her son, Jonathan Baum-Tuccillo, pointing to two palm trees in the house, said they were “rescue plants from a basement in Sag Harbor.” They had grown four feet, he said, since she brought them home.
Dr. Baum lauded her physician, Dr. Tony Knott, and East End Hospice for the devoted care they gave his wife. East End Hospice, he said, “made it possible for her to be with us” at the end.
In addition to her husband and son, who lives in Huntington, Dr. Tuccillo leaves a daughter, Mica Baum-Tuccillo of Manhattan. Burial at Fort Hill Cemetery followed Saturday’s gathering.