In memory of Janko Kersnik (1960-2015)

Video of the funeral

Speech by Prof Job Metsemakers at the funeral

Good afternoon

Dear Zdenka, Ana, Eva, other members of the family, members of the community, colleagues and friends

I speak here as the president of WONCA Europe, the European branch of the World organisation of Family Doctors.
I speak here today on behalf of these family doctors, on behalf of prof Michael Kidd the president of WONCA World, and on behalf of the WONCA World Executive.
I speak on behalf of our WONCA Europe Executive of which Janko was the Honorary Secretary with his friends Anna, Carl, Andree, Roar, Mehmet, and not to forget Barbara. 
I speak on behalf of EURACT, our educational network of which he was the President, on behalf of EURIPA, the organisation of rural doctors where he was a board member
I speak on behalf of EQuiP our network for quality of care, where he served as secretary
I speak on behalf of EGPRN, our research network, on behalf of Vasco da Gama the young doctor movement
I speak on behalf of all those friends who have been sending messages of condolence

Janko, dear Janko

You left me speechless on two occasions. Firstly when I learned that you had had a severe heart attack. And last weekend when I learned that you had passed away

Do I need to tell more about your presence in Europe after telling them your positions in our networks ?  
Do I need to tell them that you organised workshops, gave key notes at conferences, got awards such as very recently in Prague where you received a prestigious prize by the Czech Society ?
Do I need to count the European projects you took part in ?
Do I need to tell that you always looked for opportunities for education and research ?
Do I need to tell how you were valued by so many ?
Do I need to tell that you are a European hero by the words of many

Janko, dear Janko

Let me tell you that we all loved you, and not only for your hard and continuous work but as a person.
As an esteemed colleague, a creative, productive, smiling, energetic person. Also as a wise person, thoughtful, respectful. When the matter was personal you were also modest and a bit shy. You could listen, patiently listen, but not forever.
Sometime you showed your temper, not for long. You could tell a joke, quite some I must tell you.
Tell me, you would say, if I need to do something for you. You were very supportive.
How many times will we miss you ?
Will we ever stop missing you ?

Dear Zdenka, Ana and Eva
We also know Janko as a family man. He loved to take you Zdenka with him to meetings of the executive. We could see how much he liked your company. And so did we.
I already said that when it came to personal matters Janko could be modest. But once he got talking about his daughters Ana and Eva, he would be proud. His family was important.
At our recent meeting of the executive we found Janko talking to Roar, as proud and dedicated grandfathers. He already saw himself playing with his grandchild

We can only imagine a little bit how this loss must feel to you. How you will miss him
We are mourning with you

We lost a European hero, a great man, husband, father and grandfather.
How do you say fare well to someone like Janko ?
Maybe be citing a few lines from a poem

I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land

He is not dead-he is just away

Could that only be true

Obituary in the European Journal of General Practice

On Wednesday May 20th 2015 we said farewell to Janko Kersnik who died at the age of 55 years. After a heart attack he had fought for his life for more than two weeks, surrounded by his family. 

At his funeral, on a rainy afternoon, we stood in the village of Dovje (Slovenia), near Jesenice where he was born in 1960. We could see the mountains he loved. A large crowd of family, community members, friends who shared his hunting passion,  national and international colleagues and friends could still not believe that he had passed away, and that his voice would never be heard again.

Janko finished high school in Jesenice, in 1979, and entered the Faculty of Medicine, in Ljubljana, as the first selected candidate in that generation. After graduation in 1985, he returned to his home town and started working there as a general practitioner. He then started specialisation training  in general practice, which he completed in 1995. During that period he became interested in research. As the possibilities of a master’s degree in Slovenia were limited, he completed his masters’ degree in Zagreb (Croatia), in 1997. In 2001, he obtained his PhD in Ljubljana (Slovenia).

He had already joined the Medical Faculty in Ljubljana, in 1996, as an assistant in the Department of Family Medicine. In 2007, he became professor of Family Medicine. When the Medical Faculty in Maribor was established, he became their first chair of the Department of Family Medicine. In 2012, he received the award for the best teacher in the Medical Faculty. He attained the status of full professor at both Medical Faculties in Slovenia: in Maribor in 2012 and in Ljubljana in 2013.

He had a great interest in education. In addition to holding the chair in Maribor, and being a collaborator at the University in Ljubljana, he was also involved in inter-faculty master's programs of the management and economics of health care in the

Faculty of Economics. He taught about health systems in the European Community, as well as leadership in healthcare organisations in the Nursing masters’ program of the Faculty of Health Sciences. He was also a teacher in the masters’ program of the Faculty of Organizational Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Janko was the president of the Slovenian Family Medicine Society from 1997 to 2013, and a member of the Medical Chamber of Slovenia.

On an international level, his career started in 1992, when he attended the first annual international course for teachers of family medicine, later known as “the Bled course”. Since 2004, he had been its course director.

He also organised numerous local courses and congresses in Slovenia. He was president of the organising committee of the 2003 WONCA Europe region conference, in Ljubljana.

He joined EquiP, our European organisation for quality, to become the first Slovenian representative in the group, and later, a member of the executive committee. He also became a member of EURACT, the European Association of Teachers in Family Medicine, of which he became President, in 2010. As a rural doctor himself it was only naturally that he would serve on the board of EURIPA, the European organisation for rural doctors. In 2013, he was elected as Honorary Secretary of WONCA Europe, the European regional organisation of the World Organisation of Family Doctors.

Janko Kersnik was an esteemed colleague, and highly regarded as a creative, productive, smiling, and energetic person. He was also a wise person, and thoughtful and respectful. He could listen, patiently listen, but not forever. Sometimes, he could show his temper, but not for long. Janko stimulated others to think and was inspirational both at official meetings and during personal interactions

On a personal level we know that he loved his family dearly. He liked taking his wife Zdenka with him to meetings. We could see how much he enjoyed her company, as we did as well. He also was proud of his daughters Ana and Eva. And recently he shone as a greatly dedicated grandfather. He could see himself playing in the future, with his grandchild.

Professionally, he started work as a family doctor in a rural community of Kranjska Gora. Soon he became the professional head of the health centre of Gorenjska, which is one of the largest health centres in Slovenia. He continued to serve his patients amidst all the other activities he engaged in, and their presence at the funeral ceremony was a clear sign of how highly he was valued by the local community.

Standing in the rain at his funeral, we heard the stories of his life and realised that the legacy that Janko had left behind could not be described in words. We, in WONCA Europe, know that his unfinished plans remain for us to carry out.
Our thoughts go to his family, his colleagues and the GP community in Slovenia.  We wish them strength in these difficult days.

Prof Igor Svab
Past President WONCA Europe

Prof Job FM Metsemakers
President WONCA Europe