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DR. RHINEHART F. FRIESEN (published on February 09, 2009)

DR. RHINEHART F. FRIESEN It is with great sadness that his family announces the passing of our father and grandfather Dr. Rhinehart F. Friesen on the evening of February 6, 2009. Rhinehart was predeceased by his beloved wife of 65 years, Eira, on December 11, 2008. He will be deeply missed by his children John (Malgosia), Bruce (Joanne), Gordon (Anne-Marie), and Leslie Anne (Ken); his grandchildren Christa, Suzanne, Kiran, Penny, John, Marianne, Charlie, and Tara; great-granddaughter Kymberley; step granddaughters Monica (Tom) and Jennifer (Larry); and step great-grandchildren Hunter, Nathan, and Lily. Rhinehart was born January 6, 1914, in the family home at Gretna, Manitoba, to Jacob L. and Maria Friesen. In childhood he grew in the community of his large family and in the freedom of the open prairie and woods. When he finished Grade 11 at the age of 14 it was obvious he was too young to confront the world of the Depression, so his parents and teachers wisely persuaded him to spread Grade 12 over two years taking extra subjects and participating heavily in both intra and extramural activities. After graduation from the Mennonite Collegiate Institute at Gretna in 1930, he attended Normal School in Winnipeg from 1931 to 1932. He took his first job teaching Elementary School in Winkler, Manitoba. While teaching in Winkler he boarded at the home of Dr. Cornelius Wiebe who inspired Rhinehart's journey into medicine: an ambitious choice, especially since at that time admission to the University of Manitoba Medical School was limited to a small handful of non-anglo candidates. While in University Rhinehart met, in his words, the most beautiful woman in the world , Eira Charles, when she joined his curling team. Upon completion of his medical internship, Rhinehart and Eira were married February 11, 1944. Shortly thereafter Rhinehart, with the rank of Captain, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, was posted to Halifax and Debert, Nova Scotia, and Goose Bay, Labrador. Following the war he began a residency at Royal Victoria Hospital in Halifax. Rhinehart's residency was interrupted in 1946 when he contracted tuberculosis giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying patient. He spent a year in Ninette Sanatorium. Expected never to be strong enough to practice medicine but greatly respected by his professors, he was awarded the position of Medical Director of the Manitoba Cancer Relief and Research Institute. However, after six years and the birth of three of his four children, he restarted his career with a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Manitoba and was awarded his F.R.C.S. (C) in 1957. Rhinehart built up his solo practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology committed to excellence as a physician treating both body and spirit regardless of financial ability. In 1964, in collaboration with Dr. Jack Bowman, Rhinehart performed the first successful intrauterine transfusion saving babies threatened by Rh disease. He became an international expert in the technique and lectured extensively at conferences worldwide. Through the 1960s and 1970s he became a respected leader of the Manitoba medical community as a physician, teacher and innovator and as a favourite of medical staff and patients wherever he practiced. Retirement in the 1980s led to further accomplishments as the author of two books, Almost an Elephant and A Mennonite Odyssey, and a wide range of volunteer contributions to seniors' retirement education, children's love of reading and Mennonite history. It also permitted Rhinehart the pleasure of watching his farmland - originally an investment - being tilled and his crops growing. Throughout his life, beyond the long hours committed to his career and community contributions, Rhinehart found time to ensure a deep and loving relationship with his family. He shared with his children the joys of birds and butterflies, kites, and reading. He enjoyed woodworking, demonstrating craftsmanship in simple things such as the building of toy boats. Playing the piano and singing brought happiness and togetherness into the home. Love of pets was both gentle and profound. Through all these activities he conveyed to others wisdom and insight. He was loved. For their tireless and caring dedication, the family expresses its sincere thanks to the staff at Tuxedo Villa, Dr. Moran De Muller, and Rhinehart's daily companions Lubna, Allison and Kelly. Cremation has taken place. A service in Rhinehart's memory will take place Wednesday, February 11, at 1:00 p.m. at Westminster United Church, Maryland Street and Westminster Avenue, conducted by Rev. Robert Campbell and Joan Jarvis. No flowers by request. Donations would be most welcome to the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine in recognition of Rhinehart's lifelong devotion to the practice and teaching of medicine.

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