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Evaristo Gomez, M.D.

August 9, 1930 ~ August 30, 2018

Service: October 06, 2018 11:00 AM
   Location: Holy Rosary Catholic Parish

After surviving a series of near-death events over many years, Evaristo Gomez M.D. died on August 30, 2018, at the age of 88.  As a young man, Evaristo was riding in an ambulance that crashed, killing everyone aboard but him. The accident left him in a coma for weeks and blind in his right eye. He credited his faith, and especially prayers to St. Joseph, for saving the physical structure of his eye. More importantly, the accident prompted Evaristo to change his career from surgery, his first love, to psychiatry—and it also initiated the vigor, resiliency, and flexibility that marked his adult life. 

Evaristo went from rags to riches and realized the American Dream. He possessed formidable intelligence, tenacity, and an extreme desire to live. He was stubborn, hilarious, temperamental, obsessive, loving, and boundlessly generous. He took healing, mystical herbs and longevity-supporting mushrooms until he died. His last weeks in Montana were full of family and good feeling.  He was blessed to die in the home of his youngest daughter, with her, his son-in-law, and his eldest grandson at his bedside.

Evaristo was born on August 9, 1930, in Azua, Dominican Republic. The family of his mother, Consuelo Cuello, originated in Asturias, Spain; and that of his father, Jesus Gomez, in Galicia, Spain. Evaristo was the eldest of 15 siblings. During much of his childhood his paternal grandmother, Andrea Gomez, raised him in the small village of Per Alta, Dominican Republic. They lived in a shack without electricity and running water. The art on the walls was taken from calendars.  Every moment Evaristo was not cutting sugar cane or picking coffee beans, he studied books by candlelight. He had a dream to become a doctor and the ambition to make something of his life.

Evaristo attended medical school in Santo Domingo, DR.  It was there where he met his wife, Madeleine Dugue Gomez, M.D. They were married for 62 years, before Mady’s death last year. During a period of political upheaval in the DR, the couple emigrated to Canada and then the United States, to pursue their careers in medicine. Along the way they had three children, Madeleine Yvonne, Bruce Evaristo, and Colette Andrea. Evaristo received his psychiatric training at the esteemed McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He later moved to Evanston, Illinois, where for 30 years he actively practiced psychiatry as an in-patient attending and also maintained a private practice in downtown Chicago.

Evaristo was a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, where he earned many distinctions and honors, including twice being named Professor of the Year, 1969-70. He was visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, McGill University, University of Salamanca, University of Madrid, and at the University of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was co-founder of the Family Institute of Chicago and Medical Director of Charter Barclay Hospital from 1975-1981.

His other awards included New Citizens of the Year, given by the City of Chicago in 1971; the Elsie Sang Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Chicago Medical School; Alpha Omega Alpha; Distinguished Son of Azua; Honorary Citizen of Oaxaca, Mexico, and Salamanca, Spain; BASH Humanitarian Award; and Ambassador of Psychiatry for Latin America and Spain in 1994. Professor Gomez authored many book chapters and authored or co-authored more than 100 articles on family therapy, sleep, psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and the economics of psychiatric medicine.

Perhaps equally as important as these accolades, Evaristo was a champion of the severely mentally ill.  He was a forward thinker who believed in the "least medicine for the cure or stabilization."  His humor as well as expertise with the art and science of medication interventions benefitted countless patients.  He was one of the first in his field to recommend vitamins and other holistic supports in addition to the traditional psychiatric medication regimens.  He treated many at a reduced rate and even for free.

Evaristo loved food, dancing, languages, knowledge, and travel. He frequently took his children on trips to learn about other countries.  He particularly enjoyed Spain, his ancestral homeland. He lived in Madrid with his nuclear family so they could all learn about their Spanish heritage. Later, he sent his youngest daughter, her husband, and their three children to live in Spain so their American son-in-law could learn the Spanish language. While in their 70s, he and his wife took three grandchildren to live in Spain for six weeks. During that time, he was sure to take his grandkids to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, so they could see firsthand where his father was from.

Evaristo loved dancing to Latin sounds with his beloved Mayi. He taught himself by ear to play the piano and guitar, and at parties and gatherings he often improvised songs for others’ enjoyment. When his children were young, they were treated by him to the best seats in the house to watch the Cubs or Sox; box tickets to Chicago Symphony Orchestra; front row for Baryshnikov, and Flamenco great Segovia. He also scored some of the best scalper tickets for rock concerts.

Evaristo will be remembered for his sense of humor—he was always trying to make people laugh—and his penchant for grandiosity: Everything was “Super Fantastic!”  He had a peculiar diet and countless obsessive habits that could not be interrupted or changed. He was a narcoleptic night-owl, a force of nature with acute hearing, high sensitivity to light and touch, and a wicked and well-known temper. And yet he will be most remembered for his generosity. He supported most of his younger siblings and his mother until the day she died. He funded all or part of the education for many in his family. Over the years he and his wife made accommodations for twelve family members and friends to live in their home while they finished school or saved enough money to move on. Evaristo was a believer in education, the American Dream and, especially, hard work. A workaholic himself, he often stated—while wiping his brow—“You have to sweat it out, coño!”

            Evaristo lived fully and supported others in their efforts to do the same. He never gave up on anyone who was trying to do better. He wanted peace in the family and success for all its members. He was no friend of death. He often joked, or half-joked, about wanting to live forever. The deep impressions he made in this world will not easily fade away. His example of determination, will-power, humor, and zest for life already lives on in his children, grand- and great-grandchildren.

Evaristo is survived by his daughter, Madeleine Yvonne and her spouse, Javier Sanchez; son, Bruce Evaristo and his spouse, Stephanie Jones (Evanston, IL); and daughter, Colette (Coco) and spouse, Steven Kirchhoff  (Bozeman, MT); nine grandchildren, Michelle and spouse, Jefe Contreras (Eugene, OR); Bianca O’Callaghan; Eric Sanchez Gomez; Marcos Sanchez Gomez; Gabriela; Roman Gomez (Evanston, Il); Ashley Kirchhoff (Missoula, MT); Julia Kirchhoff (Brooklyn, NY); and Maxwell Kirchhoff (Bozeman, MT.); five great-grandchildren, Celia; Satya; Gael; Jason; and Kelena; sister-in-law, Genevieve Schwartz (Chula Vista, CA); sister and brother-in-laws, Rina and Steve French (Houston, TX); nephews, Steven French; Jonathan French; and Larry Jude Schwartz; and too many siblings, nieces, and nephews on his side to mention, among them Sonia Perez; Casilda Baez; and Klever Sanchez.

Donations can be made to St. Angelas (saintangela.org) an inner city school in Chicago that Evaristo and Mady supported, or WWAMI, Montana’s Medical School (uwmedicine.org) to support aspiring physicians.  The family would like to thank the many physicians who cared for him over the last five years at Bozeman Health; Home Instead Homecare; Father Leo; and a special thank you to Leslee and Brownie and the entire staff at Compassus Hospice.

A funeral mass will be held at Holy Rosary Church in Bozeman, Montana on Saturday, October 6th at 11 am.

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