Husband, Father, Grandfather
Dad grew up in the Bronx, New York City with his mom, Ellen, and father, Jerry Stanley. As a teenager, our dad worked as a busboy/waiter in resorts in the Catskills and one pivotal summer as a self- described “slave laborer” at a dairy farm in the country. He always said that it was that summer that imbued him with the drive to shape his own destiny. Upon graduation from high school, Dad ventured to the Midwest to pursue a pre-med degree at Indiana University. At the start of his sophomore year, Dad met our mom on her first night on campus, on a group date, and was instantly enamored; he said he could not keep his eyes off her. Likewise, she longed to be only with him. She did not accept other suitors in hopes that Dad would call her. He did. From that moment forward they were inseparable. They were married in Gary, Indiana on June 20th, 1959. While Dad finished medical school in Indianapolis, Mom was employed as a teacher. They were so happy living in a trailer that year, got their first pet, a cat, and had their first daughter, Elizabeth Ellen Korcak.
After graduating from medical school, Dad joined the U.S. Air force as a flight surgeon and moved with the family to the Presidio, San Francisco then to Stewart Air Base where the family welcomed their second child, Jerome Matthew.
Upon completing his military service, Dad then joined the Foreign Service with the U.S. Department of State. His first overseas post was Yemen where he served as Embassy Doctor. During this posting, he and Mom added another member to the now growing Korcak clan, Laura Sharon, who was born in Asmara, Ethiopia. Political turmoil in Yemen necessitated the emergency evacuation of all embassy personnel and we directly relocated to Vientiane, Laos, a posting which we absolutely loved! By 1970, the family returned for a tour stateside during which we welcomed the baby of the family, John Michael. Two years later, as Regional Medical Officer, Dad took the family to posts in Vienna, Austria, where we hosted many visitors and from which we explored much of Europe, and then on to Rangoon, Burma for a wonderful three-year posting! Upon returning to Washington DC, Dad was appointed Medical Director of the Department of State, an Assistant Secretary, and served in that position for six years. His last two posts were in Manila, the Philippines and Mexico City, Mexico. Along the way of our Foreign Service travels, the Korcak clan grew to include many close friends who became and remain more like family members to this very day.
In addition to having served as an Air Force flight surgeon, an Embassy Doctor and Regional Medical Officer, as Assistant Medical Director and as Medical Director of the Department of State, Dad served as Chief of Tropical Medicine, Director of Domestic Programs, and in a variety of special roles. Of note, he was the medical officer in charge of care for the US hostages returning from Iran. He also was the medical officer in charge of determining whether US medical care could save former Yugoslav President Tito. He treated many people whom we will never know, but sometimes we would receive cards giving us insight into his critical care work. For example, every year for 50 years, Dad would receive a Christmas card from a oil derrick worker who suffered a crushed skull while on the job. The note always read “You are receiving this card because I am still alive to send this thanks to you”.
Much of what our father accomplished in his long and interesting life is still a secret to us due to the nature of his work and patient confidentiality, but the out- pouring of love and appreciation from so many people lets us know that his impact is far greater than we would otherwise know.
We are proud of everything that our dad accomplished, the opportunities he provided us, but most importantly, we cherish that he is our dad, and he has always been there for us. He and his beloved wife raised his children with sound values and supplied them with all they would need to lead happy successful lives.
Dad is survived by his four children, Lizzie, Jerry, Laura and John, four beautiful grandchildren Dillon, Grace, Blake and Isabel, as well as nieces, nephews and cousins.