To the editor:
For over 30 years, Dr. Elias Dia (aka Dr. El), served Pine Island as a family physician. He was our first resident doctor. Because of failing health, Doctor Dia has recently moved to North Carolina to be with his son's family.
In World War II, Doctor Dia was a young boy when the Japanese took over his homeland in the Philippines. His father was a minister. One day a Japanese officer, who had befriended his family, warned them that the church would be forcibly taken over so the steeple could be used as a radio tower. His father secretly built a cart to hold his family's belongings and fled before the Japanese could evict them. The young family moved out of the city to the safety of the mountains.
After the war, a family provided Elias Dia with the funds to attend medical school. He graduated from Nicnor Reyes Medical School in Quezon City, Philippines, then moved his family to the United States.
Doc Dia completed his medical internship in a Jacksonville, Fla., hospital. After the internship he looked at different areas and by accident found Pine Island. He immediately fell in love with the area because it reminded him of his homeland.
In the early 1970s, while visiting Pine Island, he saw the need for medical services. He moved his family to Pine Island Center and opened his practice in a trailer that was provided by a grateful community.
Doc Dia would make house calls and at times, in lieu of money, would accept the fishermen's catch as payment for services. His final office was on Pine Island Road in Matlacha.
After he retired and sold his practice, Doc Dia continued to provide medical care to the local prison health system.
Doc Dia was an avid fisherman and had profound love of the earth's beauty. He enjoyed long walks on the island and tending to his orchids which he grew in profusion along his canal side yard.
He was our friend and neighbor and Pine Island will miss him.
Jake & Char Sedlak