By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (May 5, 2014) — More than 1,000 people, including Gov. Pat Quinn, attended Saturday’s memorial service for Jerry Umanos, the Chicago pediatrician who was killed working at a nonprofit hospital in Afghanistan when a member of the nation’s security forces opened fired on him and others on April 21.
Jerry grew up attending the Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit (now Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills). His family also has attended the Covenant’s Portage Lake Bible Camp in Onekama, Michigan, each year.
A program designed for the memorial service noted that Jerry had met his wife, Jan Schuitema, at the camp, as did his son and daughter-in-law. Jerry’s faith was a central focus of the service.
The program opened with a quote from his application for medical school: “In conclusion, I want to underscore clearly that my wanting to become a doctor and a missionary is not the result of some command from God which is against my wishes. On the contrary, I believe that God wants me to serve Him, but has left the manner by which I do this, up to me, and becoming a doctor and a missionary is what I truly desire.”
Quinn offered words of comfort at the beginning of the service. He praised the lifetime of compassion that Jerry had demonstrated.
Attendees at the service included family, friends, colleagues, as well as patients he had treated at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in a low-income urban neighborhood in Chicago. Jerry worked at the center for nearly 30 years and was its first pediatrician.
Medical workers from the center had made multiple short-term medical trips to work at a medical facility in Kabul. Jerry and Jan helped friends move to Afghanistan in 2005. In 2006, the couple also moved there to work for a year.
They moved back to Afghanistan in 2009 and lived there until 2011. Even after they returned to Chicago, Jerry still spent much of the year working in Kabul while spending the rest of his time working at the Lawndale clinic.
Jerry had been working at the CURE International hospital, which serves more than 37,000 patients a year. The gunman, who was serving as security at the hospital, killed two other Americans before shooting himself.
He was operated on at the CURE International hospital by Jerry’s colleagues and then transferred to another Kabul hospital, where he is in custody. The motive for the attack is unknown.