Farewell to a Great Pioneer
Farewell to a Great Pioneer

With sadness  we report the death over the weekend of Dr Jimmy Dick, UMN pioneer and founder of the UMN hospital at Okhaldhunga. Dr Dick passed away in Scotland after a long illness.

Dr Dick came to Nepal in 1957, after four years’ service in Kalimpong, India. He worked first at Shanta Bhawan Hospital.  Then in late 1958, he and Rev Robert Bergsaker toured eastern Nepal, following up Mildred Ballard’s explorations in order to find a location for medical work. Okhaldhunga was chosen, and in 1961 the long-awaited approval was given. Dr Dick set out from Kathmandu on 11 November 1961, arriving 5 days later.

He wrote: “I walked from the bazaar down a narrow footpath leading to a small valley just a short distance from the town. There was a small village and a stream close by for water. Suddenly a man appeared. He was Gauharka Rai, a former soldier in the British Gurkhas, and the head man (mukhia) of the village. When he heard that I was looking for a place to start a hospital, he said that he had two empty houses which we could have straight away… I went back up the hill a happy man, giving thanks to God.”*

Dr Dick led the team at Okhaldhunga until 1967. During that time, land was purchased and the first set of buildings constructed – the beginning of Okhaldhunga Hospital. Life was very difficult in those early years. Distance and poor communication isolated the team. Jonathon Lindell wrote: “When Jimmy opened the runner’s bag on one trip and found a radio for himself, he wept for joy – it opened his window and he shook hands with the world beyond again.”**
Today, the bustling Okhaldhunga Community Hospital continues Dr Dick’s tradition of service, providing care to folk from the surrounding areas. UMN recognizes with gratitude and humility the contribution of Dr Dick and his wife Ann, and we all extend our condolences to the Dick family at this sad time.

*Dr Dick’s reflection, written for the Okhaldhunga Jubilee, 2012.
**Jonathon Lindell, Nepal and the Gospel of God, page 202.

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