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Ivar "Buzz" Birkeland


Ivar "Buzz" Birkeland Obituary
Ivar (Buzz) W. Birkeland, Jr. MD
1932 ~ 2012

Dr. Ivar "Buzz" Birkeland, orthopedic surgeon, passed away peacefully on June 24, surrounded by family. Buzz challenged cancer as he challenged life - with a strong and adventurous spirit.
A true Pacific Northwesterner, Buzz grew up in Seattle and Bellevue, and attended Bellevue High School and the University of Washington. He was a member of the 1950-1954 UW Crew teams, winning two National championships, and a coach for the 1955 UW Lightweight Crew. After graduation from the UW Medical School he interned at Harborview and then served as a U.S. Navy Medical Officer in Yokosuka, Japan. He completed his residency in orthopedics at the UW Medical Center and went on to practice at Orthopedics International from 1967-1993 followed by many years as an orthopedic consultant. He specialized in Sports Medicine and worked as the team doctor for various high school teams, the Seattle Totems, Mariners and the Seahawks.
Raised in a family of avid skiers, Buzz was never far from the slopes. He traveled to ski areas around the world, including eight years as the U.S. Ski Team doctor and the 1972 Olympic Team doctor. The annual Canadian heli-ski trip with his ski buddies was a highlight of his life for over 25 years. After retiring he and his wife Joanne spent their winters in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Buzz recently wrote that his greatest joy was his family. Family adventures included skiing in Sun Valley; sailing in Desolation Sound, Alaska, and abroad; trips to Maui and a safari in Africa. A highlight are the memories he and Joanne created in their piece of paradise in Galley Bay, Desolation Sound, B.C., where Buzz welcomed friends with his smile, his laugh, and usually a work project. Together they enjoyed 30 years of building, boating, and creating a place the family will cherish forever.
Buzz is survived by his wife of 35 years, Joanne, his twin sister Sally Burklund, San Antonio, TX, brother Peter (Sue) Birkeland, Boulder, CO, and step-mother Cecilia Birkeland, Madrid, Spain. He will be deeply missed by his children Bob (Sarah) Birkeland, Mary (Doyle) Douglas, Chris (Jill) Birkeland, his step-children Debra Thompson Harvey, Darcy (Darrell) Thompson, Lincoln (Mary) Thompson, Dana (Kyle) Carver and his 12 grandchildren Andrew, Reid, Stuart, Chase, Spencer, Ryan, Natalie, Paydn, Kayla, Blaine, Cole and Talise. He was preceded in death by his parents Ivar and Marguerite, his brother Fred, and his step-daughter Lisa Ryan Thompson.
At Buzz's request, his ashes were scattered in Galley Bay.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 3:00 pm Friday, September 7 at the Seattle Tennis Club, 922 McGilvra Blvd. East, in Seattle. Remembrances may be made to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation, the University of Washington Medical School Foundation or the .
Published in The Seattle Times on Aug. 29, 2012
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