Dr Judy Kalla, 1934–2022

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 64, No. 8, October 2022, Page 361 Obituaries
By: Dan Kalla
Dr Judy Kalla
Dr Judy Kalla

Dr Judy Kalla (née Hornung) died on 16 August 2022 at the age of 88.

Judy was born in Czechoslovakia in 1934; her idyllic childhood was upended by the Nazi occupation. Her family barely escaped the Holocaust to England in 1939, following a harrowing journey through Prague and Berlin. The war years were tumultuous for young Judy, who was separated from her family for much of it. Despite the early childhood trauma, Judy’s perpetually sunny disposition never faltered, and she was eventually reunited with her family after her father, Leo, settled into a family practice in North London. Determined to follow her dad into medicine, she completed medical school at St. Mary’s Hospital, one of only 15 women in her class.

With a love of travel and an eagerness for new experiences, Judy decided to finish her postgraduate training abroad. She arrived in Vancouver in 1958 and, in typical Judy fashion, happily threw herself into an internship at Vancouver General Hospital, forging lifelong friendships and a love for her newly adopted city. In 1959, she met her husband, Frank, a doctor and a Hungarian refugee, on a blind date. Despite what she would later describe to one of her granddaughters as a challenging first date due to Frank’s then-limited English, they soon fell deeply in love and were married within 4 months.

Frank and Judy started a family practice in Vancouver, which they shared until their retirement in 1997. They were active staff members at St. Paul’s Hospital and later St. Vincent’s for their entire careers. They complemented each other’s skill sets: Frank was trained as a surgeon, while Judy was a people person whose patients adored her, and vice versa. She fondly remembered sharing a laugh with one patient after he asked her to review his “autopsy report.” Judy was passionate about learning and, throughout her career, pursued other opportunities to augment her practice, including working in public health, screening schoolkids for signs of scoliosis, teaching medical students, and participating in the early evolution of the College of Family Practice.

Born to participate, Judy was an avid, skilled skier and tennis and squash player. She loved music, art, history, literature, and travel, and she was unfailingly generous with her time, resources, and devotion. But of her countless pursuits and passions, family always came first. Judy was a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother. Despite working full-time, she was a devoted mother to her three sons: Tim, Tony, and Dan. And when that streak of maleness gave way to a raft of girls in the next generation, she tirelessly dedicated herself to her granddaughters: Melissa, Chelsea, Samantha, Gabrielle, Ashley, and Charlotte.

Judy touched so many lives. She will be long remembered for her contagious smile, her passion for life, her selflessness, her unconditional love of family and friends, and her penchant for making anyone she encountered feel heard and supported.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation (http://donate.helpstpauls.com/judith-kalla) in honor of the wonderful care Judy received there and the deep family ties to the institution.
—Dan Kalla


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Dan Kalla. Dr Judy Kalla, 1934–2022. BCMJ, Vol. 64, No. 8, October, 2022, Page(s) 361 - Obituaries.

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dr.richard james says: reply

My parents,John and Jennifer James,trained with Judy at St. Mary's and also emigrated to Vancouver
They became firm friends with Judy and Frank, enjoying many happy times together over the years[especially on the tennis courts at the Arbutus club]

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