Dr. Jan Riegl, of Williams Lake, died peacefully Monday, February 18, 2019 due to complications arising from an injury he sustained in September. He was born in Czechoslovakia during the middle of the Great Depression and spent his formative years in Prague during World War II. This very harsh beginning produced a very tough and determined man whose kindness would be remembered by all.
His family moved to the United States when he was young. There, he excelled in school, became a Pediatrician, and very briefly joined the US Army as a medic, just barely avoiding the Vietnam War. Vancouver first attracted him, but after a persuasive call from Dr. Atwood, he moved to Williams Lake in 1970 to start his career and explore the rich opportunities for canoeing and camping. He married his loving wife, Eva, who he had first met back in Prague, shortly after. She made the house a home until 1983, when she passed away.
He was known as an exceptional, caring, physician, with intelligence and tenacity, solving many complex issues affecting local children. Parents and patients knew they had a long wait going to his office because he always spent considerable time getting at the heart of every issue.
Being the only pediatrician from Prince George to Kamloops made getting away for a break a challenge. With a desire for adventure, in the style of the great explorers of old, he got his private pilot’s license and a small Cessna in the late 1970’s. He, his wife and co-pilot son, Andy, travelled over much of North America during summer-time excursions; his most memorable venture being a trip to remote Arctic villages in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
He retired in 2003 and lived quietly, listening to his beloved classical music and to stories of polar exploration on audiobooks. He always took daily walks with his dogs who he loved to spoil. Even though he suffered from macular degeneration and pronounced scoliosis of the spine, he was fiercely independent, shopping for himself and greeting past patients with relaxed good humour. He will be missed; he was 84.
The family gratefully thanks the staff of Cariboo Memorial Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, Royal Inland Hospital, BC Paramedics & Air Ambulance for their skill and compassion.
He requested that there be no service. Donations in his name, to the Child Development Center in Williams Lake would be appreciated.