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December 13, 2012

Yong-Min Chi, M.D.


In his struggle upward, Dr. Chi overcame financial hardship, the challenges of being an ethnic minority and the loneliness of being separated from his family in Korea. He was admitted to Columbia University’s medical residency program. In 1963, he was assigned to one of the program’s affiliated facilities, Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.

While at Bassett Hospital, Dr. Chi met his wife, an Irish Catholic nurse named Mary Elizabeth Clark. The couple married in 1967 and, each having lived in fatherless households, shared a desire to build a strong and large family. They started Dr. Chi’s medical practice and their family in Delhi, and then lived briefly in Picayune, Miss., while Dr. Chi taught medicine at Louisiana State and Tulane universities. In 1976, they moved to Athol, Mass., where they raised five children.

Dr. Chi practiced family medicine and general surgery at Athol Memorial Hospital for 25 years, known in town as a highly competent and compassionate caregiver.

As a father, Dr. Chi emphasized academics and self-discipline. His children graduated from elite colleges and graduate programs. The family spent its summers in the 1980s at a home on Sunset Hill in Richfield Springs.

In 1992, Dr. and Mrs. Chi bought a house in Cummaquid, Mass., later retiring there. They shared joyous years on Cape Cod. Three of their children married on the Cape. Their children and grandchildren visited often.

Dr. Chi read constantly, with bookshelves full of histories and biographies, many about World War II. He golfed with a close circle of friends and belonged to the Cummaquid Golf Club.

Dr. Chi captained his Korean high school basketball team. In the 1950s, when he arrived at Bradley University, the men’s basketball team was a national powerhouse. Dr. Chi tried out for the team. He recalled that, though outmatched in height, he stole the ball and made a lay-up during tryout scrimmages. The doctor loved watching the Boston Celtics.

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