After 26 years as a physician, Dr. Ed Pierczynski will retire on Jan. 1, 2001.
"I don't want to work anymore," said a smiling Doc, who turns 65 on Jan.17 of next year. "I had my career and now it's time to relax and do all the things I've always wanted to do. Now I want to travel, cook my chili and spend time with Mary and Eagle, our dog .... I'm planning on having a great retirement."
Doc (I've always called him that) was born in Charlotte, N.C. He didn't set out in life to be a doctor, but a tragedy in his life changed his plans.
Before becoming a doctor he was a nuclear physicist and did that for 15 years, including eight years at the Nevada Test Site.
"I designed reactors, did testing and I worked on the Enterprise," he said. "That was the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier. I worked for the U.S. government and private businesses like Westinghouse in their Astronuclear Division. I worked at Los Alamos Scientific Lab in New Mexico and I lived in 16 or 17 different states, but mostly I worked at the Nevada Test Site."
Doc was living in Southern Nevada when his life suddenly changed. He was married to Doris then.
"Our daughter Kristen drowned in a swimming pool accident," said Doc sadly. "She was 18 months old."
Doc and Doris then bought a home at Mount Charleston and were living there when things went from bad to worse
"My son Mark and Doris and my daughter Britt were at home when it happened," continued Doc. "An avalanche hit Mount Charleston. It destroyed everything, and Doris and Mark were killed in it. Doris was 32 and Mark was 11 years old. I was at work when it happened and I arrived after it hit and was able to rescue Britt, who was 13 months old at the time. Britt is now 32 and lives in Reno with husband Mark."
That was in 1969 and I lived in Las Vegas then. I didn't know Doc but knew of him because what happened was big news back then.
"That tragedy changed my life," said Doc. "I decided to become a physician. It was either that or just go away to an island somewhere and live. I needed a change so, at age 36, I enrolled in medical school at UNR. I was the oldest guy, by 10 years, in my medical school class, which was the charter class at UNR Medical school. I did my three-year residency at Kaiser Hospital in San Diego. Then I came to Carson City in 1978 and opened my practice here."
Doc had been here many times while attending UNR and "loved the town," and that's why he chose Carson City.
"I also like smaller cities and this is the best place I ever lived," he added with a smile.
MEETING ME & MARY
Doc and I met almost 20 years ago and it was because of boxing that we did. It was at the old Carson City Boxing Gym (then at Third and Curry streets) and Doc was the volunteer ringside physician for local amateur fight cards.
"I started volunteering my services as ring doctor when Ted Walker talked me into it," said Doc. "I was ring doctor for many fight cards for many years before I had to stop. I was just too busy and didn't have the time anymore."
Doc met his wife, Mary, in 1985 when friend Danny Murphy of Carson City introduced them on a blind date type of setup. Doc says he "remembers it well" because it was "snowing like hell" that day.
"Two minutes after I met Mary I fell on my sword," he laughed. "I was in love. I proposed on our second date. She said 'maybe' but she said 'yes' shortly after. We were married by Father Jerry (Hanley) at St. Teresa's Church on Oct. 25, 1985."
We were visiting at what I call the "Pierczynski Palace" and Mary, who was born in Paulding, Ohio, was there. She told of Doc's proposal and why she accepted.
"He just grew on me," she laughed. "What can I say? It turned to love."
Mary and Doc bought five acres on Franktown Road back in 1990 and that's where their home is.
"We had our home built then," added Mary. "We've lived here ever since."
No, it's not the TV show "The Practice." We'll talk about but Doc's practice. He has two new doctors coming in and Doc will "stay on board" to help in the transition until the first of the year. The new doctors begin taking over this Tuesday.
"They are Dr. Kevin Kapov and Dr. Jeff Sanders and they're from the Chicago area," said Doc. "I will work and help in the transition."
His retirement plans began over a year ago when Doc learned they were interested in coming here from Len Faike of Carson City and through Carson-Tahoe Hospital, so Doc made contact with them.
"We got together, got along great and it took a year to put it all together," noted Doc. "They are good people and good physicians. They and their families will be a good addition to our community."
EAGLE & RETIREMENT
I asked Doc about his retirement and what he has planned. Will you get bored and restless?
"That won't be a problem," he replied. "I like to putz around so I'll find plenty to keep me busy. I'm planning a great retirement. I'll also have more time to schedule Mary more efficiently .... Basically, wait on me hand and foot."
They both laughed at that, but Doc was half-serious, I think. Anyway, Doc will travel, cook his chili and go on "my mini-little trips." And he'll take Eagle along whenever possible. Eagle is a 5-year old black Labrador retriever and a weekday fixture at his office where Eagle has made friends with everyone, patients and staff alike.
"He's a good dog," said Doc as he scratched Eagle's head. "Best I ever had."
Mary says she's happy her hubby is "doing what he wants" and she has "retirement plans" for Doc too.
"I have a long list of things I want him to do," she laughed. "I'm glad for him. It's what he wants to do. I'll have to adjust to his retirement but I can handle it."
By the way, I congratulated Mary on her appointment as the new Carson City school superintendent.
And as for their chili cooking, both Doc - better known as "Dr. Chili" - and Mary are world class chili cooks and both have qualified - Mary first - for this year's world championships.
Doc won the world title in 1992 and Mary placed third in 1994. Both have won many cookoffs and both have been top five finishers at the world. In fact, Doc has more top five finishes (usually about 120 cooks enter the world) than any other world champion.
A late change has the world championships taking place in Laughlin the first weekend in October instead of Las Vegas, where last year's championships took place.
"I was first, third, fourth and fifth at the world," said Doc proudly. "I just need a second and I'll have a wheel."
Nothing personal but I'll be rooting for the "Pretty Pierczynski" to win this year, and we all know that ain't Doc!
He can get that second he wants, but only if Mary wins.
SEE THEM TONIGHT
Doc and Mary have hosted the "Carson City Invitational" chili cook-off since they started it in 1993 at their home.
The annual affair attracts the top chili cooks in the country including whomever the current world champion is and you can see the 2000 Invitational tonight on our Street Talk TV show on CAT-10 at 6 p.m.
Mary practically takes over the show but it's fun and we'll visit with Mary and Doc some more, talk with the current world champion and others during the one-hour show that repeats Monday at 8 a.m.
(ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.)