I knew Jan Kryšpín, MD, PhD (Honza) well and loved him. In 1960, he established at the “House of Pioneers” in Havlíčkovy sady, Prague under the umbrella of the Pioneer organization a club for kids (from 6th-graders up) interested in sciences and also established there a “Youth University” (Univerzita mládeže). Mathematics, organic chemistry, biology, molecular biology, philosophy, electronics were presented by excellent speakers who were leaders in their respective fields in the Czech Republic. For example the inventor of hydrophilic contact lenses Otto Wichterle, the biologists and future SVU members professors Pavel and Otakar Koldovsky, academician František Šorm and many others lectured there. My 6th-grade mathematics teacher suggested that I consider joining the group. Soon I was introduced to Jan Kryšpín’s own physiology experiments performed at the Plastic surgery and Burn unit established by Professor František Burian, the world leader in cleft lip and cleft palate repair. We looked forward to our weekly meetings since there was always something substantial and profound to learn and also enjoyed the gift of company of other clever boys and girls interested in sciences. These kids under Honza’s guidance became the most important formative experience of my life. Here, I learned love for science, knowledge, culture and the arts, nature, medicine and eventually chose my future carrier in medicine. The information learned e.g.about molecular biology acquired at the Youth University was so advanced, that it gave me a competitive edge 10 years later in medical school. Honza also organized summer camps, in which sports, appreciation of nature and science were mixed with music, unforgettable evenings at the camp-fire and acquisition of life-long friendships. Honza was a great improviser, a non-pretentious admirer of knowledge and progress, a deeply moral, friendly and good human being. He has launched innumerably young lives into critical thinking, love for science and prominent professional carriers. I often reflected on how Honza could achieve so much with so little and came to the conclusion that it was through his honest and sometimes naive trust into the extraordinary abilities of youngsters. Honza gave us the self-confidence, knowledge, the love for critical thinking and the company that formed our life. His refreshing enthusiasm knew no boundaries and contrasted sharply from the prevailing communist passivity. I will always cherish the memory of Jan Kryšpín who turned out to become, along of my parents, the most important influence in my life.
We have belatedly learned about the death of our SVU member Jan Kryšpín who passed away on January 31, 2010. He was apparently struck by a car while walking on Winon and never recovered. He was born in Kolín, Czechoslovakia on July 17, 1924. He received his MD from Charles University in 1950 and his Ph.D. from CSAV in 1959. He emigrated to Canada in 1967 and taught at the Univ. of Toronto. His interests centered on theoretical and philosophical problems of clinical medicine. He published papers on electromagnetic properties of tissues, dimensional analysis and information theory in clinical medicine and theories of homeostasis and chronic intractable pain. He directed the Kryspin Pain Clinics in the Toronto area. He devoted his life in Canada with missionary fervor to help recognize the psychogenic condition that today is defined as chronic pain syndrome.