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The Extraordinary Dr. Tea

Published: 8/23/2013
As cycling enthusiasts are watching this week's USA Pro Cycling Challenge – or just trying to log a few more leisurely rides before summer winds down – here is a story about a bike designer who was also a doctor, dancer and banjo picker.

What’s not to love about a doctor whose favorite medicine is levity? We should all be lucky enough to have been one of his patients. And along with medicine, he also excelled at music (he played the piano, guitar and banjo), languages, math, essay writing, swimming, wrestling and surfing. Here’s a YouTube video of him playing a Beatles tune with his brother Michael.



Patrick Tekeli (Image via SFGate.com)
Image via SFGate.com

It doesn’t stop there. Patrick Tekeli, MD, who died in his sleep in San Francisco on June 27, will be missed for all of the above, but also for being a good teacher, physicist, diagnostician, dancer, photographer and bicycle designer.

In 2010, Tekeli designed a road bike, “Dr. Tea,” which won Best of Show at the North American Hand Made Bicycle Show. There’s a film he produced on the history of bikes now in post-production.

Tekeli’s obituary was titled An Extraordinary Human Being – and he must have been.

The obit said, in part: “Whether you were a scientist on a blog, a taxi driver in Prague, a roaming Nigerian beach vender in Sestri Levante, or a shady wristwatch hawker in Tiananmen Square, Pat's wit, humor, and charm would make an instantaneous connection that was meaningful and deep. When travelling with Pat, you would not be a stranger in a strange land for long.”

As a hospitalist – a doctor who manages hospitalized patients when their doctors are not available – Tekeli worked out of four locations. He was one of only a few local doctors who aggressively treated HIV/AIDS patients in the early days as it ravaged the San Francisco community. For his work in this area, he was granted the Keys to the City.

Tekeli’s obituary offered a unique suggestion for friends to pay tribute: put on Coltrane's Naima, “grab a book or journal, get in your armchair, and rigorously question authority.”

Susan Soper is the author of ObitKit®, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she has written for Newsday and CNN, and was Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief."

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