Dr. Karl Ticho, a renowned eye doctor who served Chicago's South Side for over 6 decades, died at age 94 on Wednesday, November 25 in Glenview, Illinois. Born in 1926 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, Ticho's life was touched by multiple sweeping 20th Century forces, including the rise and fall of Naziism, Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the founding of the State of Israel, the postwar flourishing of the United States and the modernization of medicine - in particular, ophthalmology.
Karl's father Baruch Ticho was a prominent business leader who was imprisoned following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, first in Brno's infamous Spilberk Castle then in the Dachau concentration camp. In 1939, his mother Marie made the difficult decision to send then 13-year old Karl alone on a "children's crusade" via train thousands of miles away to Palestine, at that time a British protectorate. Karl never again saw his parents, nor his younger siblings Frantisek and Renee, who all perished in Nazi concentration camps.
At age 17, Ticho volunteered for the Jewish Brigade, serving the British Army in Egypt and Western Europe. After the war ended, he returned to Czechoslovakia, eventually beginning medical school in Prague. After apparently being targeted by the Soviet-backed authorities for making anti-communist remarks, Karl made another midnight flight, this time to Austria, where he eventually resumed and completed his medical studies at the University of Innsbruck.
Sponsored by his cousin and fellow Czech emigre Charles Ticho, Karl migrated to the United States in 1954, completed his internship at Cook County Hospital in 1955, followed by his ophthalmology residency at The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary in 1957. He continued to serve at The Eye & Ear Infirmary as a Clinical Instructor for 40 years.
Ticho married Dr. Sarah M. Swartenberg, another Holocaust survivor in 1959. The couple had five sons over the following 6 years, living in Chicago's Marynook and Beverly neighborhoods, before moving to Winnetka in 1973. Karl was a founding ophthalmologist at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, and was among the first Illinois eye doctors to perform cataract surgery with intraocular lens implantation. He was widely known as a particularly industrious and empathetic physician, who served generations of families, seeing his last patient at age 90. The ophthalmology practice, Ticho Eye Associates, continues under his son Benjamin, who joined his father in 1992.
Karl was an avid cyclist and skier who enjoyed a good beer at dinner. He cherished his season subscriptions to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Ravinia Festival for fifty years. He was a great believer in democracy, science and the value of lifelong education.
Karl passed peacefully in his sleep of natural causes. He is survived by Sarah, his wife of 61 years, as well as their five sons: Dr. Baruch Ticho, Dr. Gabriel Ticho, Joshua Ticho, Dr. Benjamin Ticho, and Dr. Simon Ticho. He is also mourned by daughters-in-law Dr. Allison August, Amy Zlimen-Ticho, Kathryn Ticho, Amy Ticho and Mary Kay Faryan; grandchildren Dr. Alexander Ticho, Max Heavenrich, Dr. Andrew Ticho, Arielle Ticho, Gideon Ticho, Fiona Ticho, Natalie Ticho, Emily Ticho, Lucia Anna Ticho, Katherine Ticho, Linus Ticho, and Tatum Ticho; and great-granddaughters Mia Ticho and Anna Ticho.
A funeral service compliant with COVID-19 precautions was held on November 26 at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Hadassah Hospital (hadassah.org
) or the Four Fathers Lectureship Fund at The University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary (https://collegeofmedicine.webhost.uic.edu/OPTHALMOLOGY/giving.html
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Published by Chicago Tribune from Nov. 28 to Nov. 29, 2020.