Richard Elwood Nitschke, M.D., died peacefully on April 26, 2011 at the age of 97 years.
He was a devoted and loving husband to Lella Len Mewhinney Nitschke for 68 years. He was a proud family man, dedicated to his three children, Sue McClane, Joan Nitschke, Richard Nitschke Jr. and their families.
Dr. Nitschke was born July 5, 1913 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Isabel Stokes Nitschke and Dr. William H. Nitschke, a practicing dentist. He was raised in Brazil until the age of six when the family re-located to Philadelphia and later to Utica, NewYork.
His lifelong love of nature was fostered by family summer gatherings spent hiking and canoeing in upper New York State at Old Forge in the Adirondacks and at Lake Placid.
He entered an accelerated undergraduate program at Duke University in 1931 and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He was the number one half miler on the cross country track team that won the Southern Conference Championship. He remained an avid fan of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team throughout his life. After graduating from Duke Medical School in 1937, Dr. Nitschke moved to New York City for his internship at Columbia Presbyterian and residency at Roosevelt Hospital.
His specialty was internal medicine but he also trained at the Neurological Institute of New York. While still in New York, he enlisted in the Manhattan Division of the 101st horse calvary.
Upon the onset of World War II, he was assigned to the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas. During this time he met and married the love of his life, Len Mewhinney of Holland, Texas, who was working as a secretary for the FBI.
He served as Flight Surgeon with the Army Air Corps, with the 30th Bomb Group of the 5th Fighter Wing and was stationed at Ballinger, Texas, Lubbock, Texas and Oahu, Hawaii.
Dr. Nitschke was a dedicated physician of Internal Medicine, serving his patients in the San Antonio community from 1946 until his retirement in 1985.
He was on the staff of the Robert B. Green Hospital where he was responsible for evaluating every patient for poliomyelitis in order to determine hospital admission. After the discovery of the Salk polio vaccine, he left the Robert B. Green but remained an emeritus member of their staff.
Dr. Nitschke began a long association with the Santa Rosa Hospital, initially doing charity work and progressively becoming more involved, serving as Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chief of Staff in 1952 and 1953. He was the first physician appointed to the Board of Directors of the Santa Rosa Hospital and served in this capacity for six years.
When he opened his private practice in Alamo Heights, he continued to serve as physician to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word for many years.
Dick Nitschke treated all patients with skill and compassion. He was regarded as a doctors doctor and was held in high esteem as a physician and humanitarian.
His professional associations included memberships in the Bexar County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, Texas Club of Internists, Texas Society of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American College of Physicians.
He was a lifelong Episcopalian and was a member of Christ Episcopal Church.
He was also a member of the San Antonio Country Club and The Argyle.
Dr. Nitschke was a loyal and proud Texan who studied the local flora and fauna of the Texas Hill Country. He particularly enjoyed raising Quarter Horses on his beloved Remuda Ranch in Kendall County.
He was a naturalist in the school of Aldo Leopold and gave each of his children their own copy of The Sand County Almanac. His bird book was always nearby but he had a special appreciation for the grace and strength of raptors. He was a member and supporter of Last Chance Forever, a raptor rehabilitator, as well as the South Texas Archaeology Association.
He leaves a legacy of a love of nature and a sense of adventure to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Dr. Nitschke was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. William and Isabel Nitschke, brother William Nitschke Jr., sisters Eleanor Adams and Isabel Baker.
He is survived by his wife, Len Nitschke, daughter Sue McClane and husband Bob, daughter Joan Nitschke, son Richard Nitschke Jr., grandchildren Len McClane Brown and husband Boyce of Waco, TX, Norris Robert McClane and wife Nicole of San Antonio, TX, James Patch Nitschke and Alexander Blake Sandy Nitschke of Boerne, TX. His great grandchildren and future naturalists are Lella Sue Susie Brown, Annah Stanton Brown and Lucia Sheldon McClane. He is also survived by half sister Olive Sherman of Colorado, half brother, James Nitschke of Florida and many nieces and nephews throughout the country, including his nephew, Richard Mewhinney and wife Sandy of Holland, TX.
The family would like to recognize the many contributions of special friends, Maria Sublett and Ernest Williams. They also thank the staff of Emeritus at Oakwell Farms, the Avionn Home Health Group and Christus Santa Rosa Hospice for their compassionate care.
APRIL 29, 2011
510 BELKNAP PLACE
The Rev. John Barrett and Rev. Scott Kitayama officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Christus Sister Mary Hospice Center, 5131 Medical Drive, Suite 301, San Antonio, TX 78229, Tele: 210 558-6300; www.christushomecare.org.
Born: July 5, 1913
Place of Birth: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Death: April 26, 2011
This memorial provided by:
Porter Loring Mortuary