Jamestown's very own Chris Albin Kaczmarek, M.D., who was and always will be my friend and who I always referred to as Doctor Chris, was the very first friend we made upon arriving in Jamestown about eight years ago.
We came to Jamestown from Florida to "take-care-of-mother-and dad.'' We knew no one in Jamestown other than family that warm spring day when there was a knock on the door of our new home on Lakeview Avenue. Standing there was a somewhat tall, healthy and good-looking young man with two bottles of (what we soon found out was very expensive) wine.
''Well, David, are we going to let the man in?'' said my friend Mark.
Dr. Chris Kaczmarek
So began our never-ending friendship with Doctor Chris.
After his death last Sunday, July 1, I was invited to write a few words about Doctor Chris. I decided to write this because I want to share with everyone in the Jamestown just how important Doctor Chris was and always will be in our lives.
Quoting my sister, Jane A. Saari of Waterford, Mich., Doctor Chris had three main characteristics:
"Chris was a gentle man, who was poignant, compassionate and accepting."
It is always said that a man's real wealth is quantifiably measured by how one is remembered and by one's deeds. Until I started doing the background research on him, I had no idea how many lives have been touched by Doctor Chris in the region - not only as one of the best psychiatrist on the fifth floor of the city building but so much more than that.
I spent a day interviewing by phone and in person as many folks I could find who knew him in some manner.
And how many of his family and friends knew his true legacy is only just now surfacing in my mind.
I briefly interviewed Doctor Chris' father, Al Kaczmarek (81).
He answered the following question: "What was your son like, Mr. Kaczmarek, really like"?
He said: "Chris was a gentle man who traveled the world and saw it all, which began in high school becoming an AFS student and never stopped growing. My son was also a quiet, thoughtful, and caring boy throughout his life who served on countless local committees and served to begin the 'process' for our local LGBT community to literally come out of the Jamestown society closet."
Chris's Dad then said, ''Well, chew on that for starters,'' and so I have and here I shall in order to write for all to know the Doctor Chris I knew and now all of Jamestown will know forever.
I spoke briefly with Scott Wiedrich, owner of Sky Bar, who has been such a longtime friend and business confidant with Doctor Chris. At least 17 years or so is my understanding. Scott knew Doctor Chris most likely better that any of us. I looked directly into his eyes and got all the information I needed.
I am struggling to find the right words to keep this focused on my friend. I spoke with Sharon Lisciandro of Century21 who had the pleasure of many business and personal conversations with Doctor Chris.
Sharon said Chris served on so many local chartable committees, he was such a kind and passionate man and he will be so sorely missed in Jamestown area.
I had a glorious opportunity to talk with Doctor Chris three weeks ago in what I knew would be our last phone conversation. Doctor Chris was in Boston awaiting another miracle drug trial and we laughed and talked together about old times.
Well, there it is.
Everyone who knew Doctor Chris perhaps knows of him a little bit better now. And those who did not know him at all should simply realize the treasure we had - and still have today - in our community.