Longtime Juneau resident Dr. Fred Chu died peacefully on Jan. 30, 2010, at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He was 56. He came to Juneau in 1988 and practiced medicine at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium until he became ill in 2005.
Born May 9, 1953, in Hong Kong, he was the fifth of eight children in his family. His family was in transition from China to Brazil and eventually to Los Angeles when he was 14. His background enabled him to understand different cultures and to speak four languages.
He finished high school in Los Angeles and then attended UCLA, receiving a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry in 1975. He was accepted to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., graduating in 1979. He did his residency training in Family Practice at the University of Colorado, Denver. Next he served in the Navajo Area Indian Health Service in Gallup, N.M., developing a lifelong passion for health care for Native Americans.
He returned to Denver to teach family medicine for five years. He moved with his young family to Juneau in 1988 to take a position at SEARHC. Juneau became his home, where he raised his two sons, Christopher and Brian, who currently live near their mother, Dr. Ellen Farley, in northern California.
He had a passion for fishing and exploring the great outdoors. He considered it a great honor to be adopted into the Kaagwantaan Eagle clan in 1992. His Tlingit name is Stoowukaa.
In his final year of practice, he was named Alaska Family Physician of the Year for 2005. The retirement celebration held in honor of his many achievements and lifetime of service was attended by several hundred of his colleagues, patients and members of the community.
"Chu was one of Juneau's most brilliant physicians, and all the medical staff benefited from the knowledge and expertise he shared," a colleague said. "He paved the way at SEARHC for the addition of complimentary medicine to clinical services."
"I will always remember Dr. Fred Chu and his sweet open smile," said a patient. "His energy remains in me."
He was preceded in death by his mother, Liu Pu-Fang Chu; and father, Shen Wen Chu.
He is survived by his sons, Christopher and Brian Chu; seven siblings, John, Airin, David, Russell, Tony, Ana and Linda Chu; and many nieces and nephews.
In Juneau he is survived by his loving partner, Joni Gill Pico, and her daughter, Sasha; and many close personal friends whom he also considered to be another family circle.
A Tlingit cultural memorial service honoring him will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, at the Tlingit-Haida Community Center in Juneau, 3235 Hospital Drive, near Twin Lakes.
In lieu of flowers you may make donations to "The Dr. Fred Chu Memorial Account" for the Fred Chu Integrative Medicine Healing Endowment Fund through Wells Fargo Bank at 123 Seward Street, Juneau, AK 99801.