Tim Lukaszewski, MD known affectionately by his hundreds of patients and colleagues throughout Alameda County as “Dr. Tim” died May 4, 2019. First diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2015 with a prognosis of 3-6 months, Tim managed to pack in several more years of living life to the fullest. As he wished, Tim died quietly at home in Berkeley with his husband of 38 years and love of his life, Paul Preston, at his bedside.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a Biochemistry degree in 1969, Tim got his medical degree from Stanford in 1974. Dr. Tim went on to practice not only psychiatry but Primary Care medicine. He firmly believed that psychiatrists should not only help a patient’s mental health, but attend to their physical health as well. He always considered himself a hands-on physician. Throughout more than 40 years of practice, Dr. Tim devoted himself to caring for the severely and persistently mentally ill. A core tenet of his psychiatric practice was that clients should also benefit from access to appropriate resources and ongoing supportive services while in treatment.
Dr. Tim was a staff psychiatrist at Asian Community Mental Health in Oakland from 1975 until 1997 when he became the Medical Director, retiring in 2015. Fluent in Spanish, he was also a psychiatrist and Assistant Medical Director at La Clinica de la Raza in Oakland from 1995 to 1997. Dr. Tim also worked as a psychiatrist for a number of agencies in Alameda County including Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACCESS), the Strides Program, Eden Adult Outpatient Mental Health, Herrick Hospital and the Hayward Psychiatric Group.
In addition to his medical career, Dr. Tim was truly a Renaissance man with multiple talents, diverse interests and an insatiable curiosity. In 1988, he received an M.S. in Horticulture from the University of California Davis, and later with his husband Paul created a website and database with over 45,000 photos of California native plants (http://total-plant.org). An accomplished pianist, Tim was also an a cappella singer and song arranger with “The Irrationals.”
Together with his husband, Tim was the co-editor of The Bauer Quarterly, a publication about early 20th Century pottery. He loved creating art, especially botanical drawings, etchings and woodblock prints. He was even a finalist for a position on the reality show “Survivor.” Tim loved to travel throughout the world, photograph native flora in several states, backpack, garden and participate in marathons and triathlons. He especially enjoyed spending time with his many loving friends across the country. Everyone knew Dr. Tim as a straight-talker who was honest about what he believed. But, he also had wonderful sense of humor and loved to be silly, joke with his friends and display an amazingly quick wit.
Born in Milwaukee in 1948, Tim was preceded in death by his father Bennie and his mother Birdie. Besides his husband Paul, Tim is survived by his brother David Lukaszewski (Fran) of Parker, CO; his sister Mary Eggers (Michael) of Safety Harbor, FL; his former sister-in-law Marsha Willis of Castle Rock, CO; his father-in-law Michael Preston of Greenfield, WI, and several cousins, nephews and nieces.
When his cancer and treatments made it impossible for him to continue working, Dr. Tim wrote this in his retirement letter to his colleagues and staff:
“I want to thank each and every one of you for your dedication, hard work, compassion and comradery. We have been a great team and have helped many people. A friend of ours once described the work we do as ‘the noble work.’ Please continue this important work to help those less fortunate than most of us. Finally, I want to remind all of you to stay healthy, set limits for yourself around work, go home to your families, and hold your friends close to your heart. Life is short and sometimes unfairly so. I have lived a healthy life – eating well, exercising regularly, and enjoying life outside work. I urge you to do the same. Stay mindful of the little joys and value every new day with your friends and loved ones.”
Tim is grateful for all the kindness, love and support from his friends, family and the many Kaiser doctors, nurses and staff that cared for him over the course of his illness. He wanted to give special thanks to his husband Paul, his cousin Mark Latus of Milwaukee and his hospice nurse Patty Bresnan and her team.
Tim has requested no services. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Tim’s name can be made to any of these:
The Jepson Herbarium
1001 VLSP #2465
Berkeley, CA 94720
The Ridges Sanctuary
P.O. Box 152
Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
The Nature Conservancy
4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203
Shown are two of Tim’s favorite plants: Calochortus kennedyi var. kennedyi and Calochortus luteus, the cover of “The Irrationals” first CD, and three of Tim’s drawings.
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