Dr. Frank George Palanek was born on the 18th of September, 1917 in Hluk, Czechoslovakia. He was the second of three sons, born to John Palanek and the former Marie Riha. The family immigrated to Canada on the 17th of June, 1929 and settled on a farm near Dresden, Ontario. The three boys, John, Frank and Anthony attended school in Dresden. Dr. Palanek attended the Dresden High School up to Grade 12. For Grade 13, he attended Chatham Collegiate Institute in Chatham and he achieved the gold medal for matriculation.
Dr. Palanek attended Queen’s University in Kingston, beginning in 1937. After completing an undergraduate degree, Dr. Palanek went on to medical school at Queen’s. Dr. Palanek enlisted in the army while he was in medical school. He was required to intern through the summer vacation. Dr. Palanek interned at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham. Dr. Palanek graduated M.D.,C.M. (which included his Masters of Surgery) on January 20th, 1943.
On the 30th of January, 1943, he married Lillian (Lacina) Palanek. She was born in Czechoslovakia, the daughter of Francis Lacina and the former Frances Brecka. Mrs. Palanek had 2 sisters Mary and Emily and a brother named Stanley.
Dr. Palanek completed his internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London. The following year, Dr. and Mrs. Palanek had a baby boy who they named Robert John Palanek. Dr. Palanek was suppose to report to Officers Training in Winnipeg, but delayed his arrival to care for his wife and new-born son after a difficult delivery. Mrs. Palanek and baby Robert flew to Winnipeg three weeks later.
Dr. Palanek was eventually sent to Watford, England and worked as a surgeon caring for the injured from D-Day (June 1944). As Allied Forces moved across Europe, Dr. Palanek followed the troops working in Battalion Aid Hospitals. Mrs. Palanek knew of at least 9 locations that her husband had been posted to. Dr. Palanek’s younger brother Anthony was a Canadian Air Force pilot. Anthony was shot down and died in a bombing run over Germany and left behind his wife and his 3 year-old son, James.
Dr. Palanek returned to Canada in March of 1946. He was discharged from the army in June of 1946. He held the rank of Captain.
Dr. Palanek set up a general family practice and surgery at 147 Thames Street in Chatham in September of 1946. His wife Lil worked side by side with her husband. She looked after the administration of the office and she worked as his nurse. Dr. and Mrs. Palanek had a daughter Corinne Elizabeth Palanek.
In 1964, Dr. Palanek had a medical set-back and his practice was cut in half. In 1967 after another health decline, his practice was cut back again and towards the end of his career, Dr. Palanek just did dermatology. Dr. Palanek was president of the Kent County Medical Association in 1973. He was also a member of Rotary, Past President of the V.O.N. and Past President of the Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Dr. Palanek enjoyed hunting and fishing in his spare time.
Dr. Palanek died on the 30th of September, 1982. Mrs. Palanek died on the 22nd of August, 2017. They are buried in the mausoleum at the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.
*Dr. Palanek is also featured on the ‘Gathering Our Heroes’ website.