KOTKAS, Lawrence

Posted: January 2nd, 2018


DR. LAWRENCE JOHN KOTKAS passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at the Chinook Regional Hospital on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at the age of 85. Lawrence was born in Raymond, Alberta on January 30, 1932. He was the oldest child of Jack and Margaret Kotkas.

Following high school in Raymond, Lawrence completed training at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and served in the reserves. He graduated with his B.Sc. & M.D. from the University of Alberta, and applied for the Canadian Foreign Service. He began his Foreign Service postings, both as an M.D. and a diplomat, in Ottawa and continued overseas in the UK, Finland, Denmark, and Switzerland. He received his specialty, the D.P.M. (Doctor of Psychiatric Medicine) from both the University of Leeds and the University of London while also teaching at both universities. Lawrence was in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a young man and often said that one of the proudest days of his life was when he graduated with his M.D. and received his Geneva Convention card for medical personnel.

Lawrence returned to Canada to live in 1966 and went into private practice in psychiatry. He was the first psychiatrist in Lethbridge and established the first general hospital psychiatric unit. He continued as the Chief of Psychiatry in Lethbridge hospitals for many years. Lawrence was a pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine and was a founding member of the Nutritional Medicine Today Society. His compassion, advocacy, and determination contributed considerably to a better understanding of both mental and physical health.

Words cannot describe the depth of knowledge that Lawrence acquired in his lifetime. His joy was in sharing his knowledge in ways that would benefit everyone he encountered. Lawrence was also a gifted musician, pianist, baritone singer and accordionist. He composed original music and lyrics for his family that we treasure.

He is lovingly remembered by his wife Patti Clow, of 34 years, children and grandchildren: Kaaren Finlay, Kate & Jack; Melissa (Glenn) Price, Harrison & Nicholas; Alex (Diane) Kotkas, Jenise (Carsten), Shianne, Elise, Claire & Kai; and Kevin (Debbie) Kotkas, Ajax; Shawn Burke; Marla (Gord) Bloudoff, Ashley (Tom) & Braden.

A Memorial Service will be held at CORNERSTONE FUNERAL HOME – 2800 Mayor Magrath Drive South, Lethbridge, on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at 3:00 P.M. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 426-6 St. S, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 2C9.

To send a condolence, please visit www.cornerstonefuneralhome.com

2 Condolences for “KOTKAS, Lawrence”

  1. Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love says:

    I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to travel back to Lethbridge for this amazing man’s funeral service and I want to thank his daughter Kaaren for contacting me! He truly saved my life from a horrible series of misdiagnosing by many doctors I had been a patient of. Dr. Lawrence Kotkas was kind as well as thorough and I had no idea he was so experienced in his field!!

    When he told me I had Hashimoto’s disease that was affecting my thyroid production and pernicious anemia as well as my entire metabolism I had no idea how profound his discovery would be! At 23 years old I had been accused of being a hypochondriac and suffered my entire life from major problems. He truly cares about his patients and I was fascinated to read that he was also a talented musician as well as making significant contributions to the mental and physical and emotional health of the southern Alberta community.

    I will be contributing a donation and I truly hope that his life will not be forgotten! Again my sincere apologies for being able to fly in for the service and thank you all for thinking of me! Your father, husband and friend was a truly amazing human being. Please feel free to contact me if you decide to set up a bursary or scholarship on his honour!

  2. Deb Lizee says:

    I was a long time patient of Dr. Kotkas. He was the first Dr. That could convince a young 24 year old mother of three, she was bipolar.
    Dr. Kotkas saved my life as well as my childrens life. I was told by many Drs. my only problem I had was I was an adult with ADD. After an unsuccessful attempt at suicide I met with this awesome, compassionate dr that spoke my language. I was weird to him.
    This Dr.s advice actually made sense
    This Dr. was Dr. Kotkas. He didnt try to fill me with medication were I would be drowsy and drooling. Dr. Kotkas believed in a different type of therapy. And I followed his advice.
    Dr. Kotkas had a way of making me feel safe.
    I had no idea of all his credentials, proving what a humble man he was. Proving his passion was to help those that cope and survive everday with a mental illness.
    Dr. Kotkas is a role model to anyone in then Psychiatric field.

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