Doctors find 'a piece of heaven' in Prince George

Dr. June Frye and the late Dr. Russ Frye, described by many professionals as the cornerstones of psychiatry in our city, were honoured by being inducted into the Northern Medical Society Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Russ Frye worked as the Chief of Psychiatry in Prince George for 22 years. June practiced for a total of 35 years and was the first woman to be inducted into the Northern Medical Society Hall of Fame. Here is their story in a nutshell.

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Charles (Russ) was born in Lawton, Ok. in 1936. He graduated from medical school at Indiana University in 1967 and completed his internship at Marion County General Hospital in 1968. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Illinois State Psychiatric Institute in 1974 and worked at Michael Reese, Highland Park and Chicago Lakeshore Hospitals in the suburbs of Chicago.

He met and married June Mitchell in 1969. June was born in the small town of Shelbyville, Ind. in 1938. She graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1967.

Russ and June met one another when June was an intern medical student in obstetrics and rotating on a three-month schedule.

Together they had seven children; sons Michael (Vivian) and Charles Frye Jr., daughters Angela and Allison, stepsons Dr. Jeff (Mary) Oehler, Dr. John (Carol) Oehler and Chris Oehler. They have six grandchildren.

It was just pure good luck that Prince George landed these two great psychiatrists.

Russ had sent resumes to Christ Church, New Zealand, checking out job opportunities and it wasn't long when he received a phone call from the recruiter in New Zealand.

During the interview Russ mentioned an advertisement he had seen for a similar position in Prince George, British Columbia. The recruiter said he had been to Prince George and did not like it and assured Russ that New Zealand was a much better choice.

Due to his love of the outdoors, Russ continued to check out Prince George and came here to see things for himself. He was welcomed by a warm and friendly medical community and he loved the city from day one.

June said, "Russ came to Prince George in 1981 and I arrived nearly a year later when all the immigration paper work was in place. I knew immediately that moving to Prince George was the right choice. We were happy about the move and we easily made many good friends and our medical colleagues were excellent in their professions. Prince George has always had quality medical care and excellent surgeons.

"The natural beauty of northern B.C. and the close-knit medical community was exactly what we wanted. We enjoyed the great outdoor opportunities and spent many hours cross-country skiing, whitewater kayaking, canoeing the Bowron Lakes, golfing and fishing.

"Our home was situated on a piece of heaven with a spectacular view of the Nechako River."

Russ was always interested in theater including writing, acting and directing plays and he loved to read, watch movies and listen to Mozart and Beethoven.

He had a great sense of humor and a passion for his work. He enjoyed and understood politics and was always interested in international and foreign affairs.

June reflected back and said, "I started working in Prince George in May of 1982 and together we both worked in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry.

"Russ was relentless in his efforts to recruit additional psychiatrists to the community. There was nothing here when we got here. Those that came to Prince George did not stay because of the weather. He never gave up recruiting and worked tirelessly to develop the psychiatric services in Prince George.

"He introduced and implemented new advancements in psychiatry including the establishment of the Psychiatry Residency Program in Prince George. Russ continued to practice psychiatry in the community and retired in September 2016 after 35 years in the field of psychiatry.

"We were enormously happy here. We were married for over 50 years when sadly Russ passed away in November of 2016 at the age of 80."

June birthdays that I know about: Matt Pauley, Diane Sultano, Louise Bundock, Jean Liversidge, Ivor Buchi, Gladys Thorp, Francine Bussieres, Ethel Rhodes, Carol Bailey, Linda Wenzel, Adele Mingay, Pauline Anderson, Lee Abra, Pam Meyer, Otto Arndt, Connie Buchanan, Robert Reid, Mary Kirby, Lois Bittner, Frank Mauro, Helen Checkley, Gladys Goyer, Euclide Goyer, Lena Dumoulin, Dody Morehouse, John Wemyss, Heather Carter, Don Carpenter, Keith McLachlan, Rod Holmes, Caroline Burkhardt, Ann Cherniawsky, Garnet Webber, Skip Cleave, Margaret Girling, Doreen Gray, Linda Parkinson, Lena Rossi, Paul Swennumson, Dave Erickson, Jackie Derksen, Judy Green, Elaine Lamb, Louise Little, Marilyn Rayner, Susan Schaefer, Erwin Stoll, Dave Stolar, Kay Wendland, Joan Griffiths, June Mackay, Roberta Case, Ed Seidlitz, Judy Montgomery, Susan Santos and Linda Earles.

June wedding anniversaries: 63 years for Mike and Louise Bundock, 61 years for Walter and Marilyn Shelest, 56 years for Otto and Janice Arndt, 51 years for Dennis and Sandy Houston, 48 years for Terry and Heather Carter and two years for Mike and Helen Green.

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