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Remembering Dr. Esteban Ryciak, 1943—2021

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Photo courtesy of the family
Photo courtesy of the family

Dr. Esteban Ryciak was a dedicated practitioner of naturopathic medicine at his office in Pike Place Market for 39 years. It was his life's mission.

Dr. Ryciak treated anyone and everyone that came to his door, with means or without, as if they were a member of his own family — with kindness and compassion. He put his heart and soul into his practice, his patients, his students, his family, and everyone whom he encountered.

His devotion to caring for others was remarkable. He was a dedicated single dad when there were few single dads. He was a doctor who made house calls when few others did.

He fought tirelessly to help improve the health not only of his patients but of all those in need, especially those mistreated or marginalized by mainstream society. Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Ryciak took great pride and care in treating Seattle's Latino community.

He was a passionate doctor known to push the envelope and was quoted many times as saying, "If we're all thinking the same, nobody is thinking!"

In the 1970s he founded the Latin American Clinic in Costa Rica, and started his own line of herbal medicines.

As a graduate of the first class of John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine, now Bastyr University, he stayed on as faculty during its early years. He was integral in gaining reimbursable naturopathic care for patients in Washington State in 1996, and in 1998, he was named "Physician of the Year" by the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He also helped to found and co-direct the Sombrero Club, a community medicine clinical training program for naturopathic medical students.

Dr. Ryciak was an influential and appreciated medical voice through his regular HIV/AIDS column in the Seattle Gay News during the ACT-UP era. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, he was one of the first doctors to care for and touch his patients with AIDS, demonstrating both his knowledge and his compassion.

Dr. Ryciak showed the same rare level of care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it ultimately cost him his life. He was a strong proponent of receiving the COVID vaccine.

Dr. Ryciak was an extraordinary individual who forged his own path with such force that it is hard to believe that he is gone. He will be deeply missed.

He is survived by his daughter Maritza Ryciak, whom he lovingly raised as a single father, and his grandson Wylie Benjamin.

A memorial in his honor will be hled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on September 29, 2021 in Pike Place Market, at the foot of Stewart St., near his long-standing naturopathic medical practice. RSVP at https://bit.ly/3lJT0aq.