JOHN H. TEGENFELDT
(B. April 3, 1947 Oak Park Illinois D. February 25, 2019 Palm Desert, California)
The Kodai Community has been shocked by the news of the sudden and untimely death of one of its dear sons, John H. Tegenfeldt, on February 25, 2019. An avid sportsman, he died while playing pickle ball in Palm Desert, California. My wife and I still remember a wonderful lunch in Seattle just a few years ago with “Teg” and his lovely wife, Diane. Both were glowing with health, so this news is a blow to the solar plexus.
His death has cut short the life of an eminent health care professional, a loving husband to Diane (whom he married in 1997), a devoted father to his three sons Aron, Karl, and Ryan, and a dear friend to many. These fine young men are the offspring of his twenty year marriage with Helen Kline, a classmate at Kodai. After graduating from Kodai High School in 1964, Teg earned a B.A. in economics and political science from Bethel College in Saint Paul, MN, in 1968; and went on to receive a M.A. in Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1975. In between these programs, he spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal.
In 1979 he became President and CEO of the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, a position he held until 1996. For five years he was CEO of the Beijing Toronto International Hospital in China, and then was named Deputy Minister of Health Planning for the Province of British Columbia. Following this government assignment, he has served as an international health care consultant.
I did not know Teg in any of these professional capacities. I knew him as a very dear friend. He was my longtime roommate at Kodai. Indeed, we became “blood brothers” in our own secret ritual. And he was the Best Man at my wedding to Ana Maria Turner in 1976. As a Baptist missionary kid from Burma, Kodai in South India was a long way from home for Teg. On his first day in boarding school, we tussled over a dinner table seat. Afterwards, we became fast friends as often happens with young boys. We shared a common passion for sports, and Teg excelled in everything he tried: tennis, basketball, flag football, the high jump, and Kodai’s two favorite games of Kick Ball and Double Dodge. He also keenly followed American sports, and was constantly “stealing” my issues of Sports Illustrated to get the jump on this baseball game and that tennis match.
In our day, it was the cool thing to ignore siblings in public and pretend to be “suave and debonair” about the long family separations of boarding life at Kodai. Teg and I swam against this tide by sharing family stories long into the night, and freely acknowledging our sisters by day. Yet, among our peers, Teg was very popular. I still remember how much he laughed, and how he laughed. He started with this big guffaw that was followed by a trill of chuckles that drew everyone in. His blond hair was so curly that he had a Swedish Afro before anyone knew what that was. He blushed easily, and often, and the question hanging over these episodes was: How red could he get? In conversation, he could be alternatively funny or serious. He was always interested in other people, and everyone just enjoyed being around Teg.
We did have our disagreements. We argued endlessly and pointlessly about the comparative merits of Teg’s Washington State versus my Illinois—about which we both knew virtually nothing. Then there was this terrible rancor over the fact that Teg was a Baptist and I was a Lutheran. Both of us were sure that God had embraced all our finer points of doctrinal subtlety. In truth, I think God pretty much ignored us on this. Ironically, now I am no longer a Lutheran, and Teg is not a Baptist. We are both probably a little closer to Heaven as a result. Actually, come to think of it, Teg is already there. Since he got there first, I will make the concession that Heaven is doubtless more like his Bellingham, Washington than my Rockford, Illinois.
Here’s to you, Teg, my dear friend, and save a place for me at that Heavenly table.
Timothy J. Lomperis, Maryville, TN, March, 2019
In Memoriam - JOHN H. TEGENFELDT
JOHN H. TEGENFELDT