The Physician as Polymath
Dr. Patrick Spencer Tekeli of San Francisco died June 27, 2013. He was 55.
Born in San Francisco, he graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in 1980. After earning his medical degree at Vanderbilt in 1984, he began an internship at California Pacific Medical Center in his hometown, which marked the beginning of a long affiliation with CPMC. Tekeli joined the fledgling specialists known as “hospitalists”—doctors with broad skill sets who are able to oversee and manage hospitalized patients when surgeons and other specialists are away. Thereafter, he was among a handful of local physicians to aggressively treat HIV/AIDS patients while mainstream medicine was still mired in confusion and denial over the disease. The approach was revolutionary, earning Tekeli the Keys to the City.
Tekeli was known for his ability to explain complicated issues in easy-to-understand language. Incremental improvement, a day at a time, was an essential and contagious element of his mastery of many subjects. An avid world traveler, Tekeli was also a talented pianist, guitarist, banjoist, linguist, philosopher, mathematician, comedian, athlete, teacher, swimmer, physicist, wrestler, theoretician, surfer, diagnostician, photographer, essayist, bicycle designer, filmmaker and dancer. In 2010 his design of the “Dr. Tea” road bike won Best of Show at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show. His film about the history of bicycles is in postproduction.
He is survived by his brother, nephew, three stepbrothers, a stepsister and extended family.