Dr. Joel Mitchell Vavich

Dr. Joel Mitchell Vavich, 74, passed away on August 8, 2019 at HCA Medical Center Clear Lake.

He is survived by his daughters Hope & Brazos Starr of Nacogdoches, Tiffany Gunning of St. Petersburg FL, Jordan Doty of Lawton, OK, Michelle Vavich & Derek Moreland of Austin, Vanessa & Jed Ragsdale of Cypress, sons Brendan Vavich of Angleton, Cammie Vavich of Alvin, Christopher Vavich of Austin, Danny & Paradee Berkowitz of Woodbine, MD, David Vavich of Killeen, spouse Kathleen Sommers Vavich of Alvin, and stepmother Marcia Vavich of Tucson AZ.

Dr. Vavich had 13 grandchildren who adored him including Mary, David Jr. and Sage Vavich; October and Cassandra Vavich; Joshua and Jacob Vavich, Hailey Berkowitz, Lexi Gunning, Lori Mulhollan, Savannah Doty, & Avery and Aidan Ragsdale. Dr. Vavich was local pediatrician in Lake Jackson and was truly dedicated to his practice over the last several decades serving children and their families in Brazoria County.

Dr. Vavich was born in Belle Font, PA to Mitchell G. Vavich and Lillian O. Vavich, and was raised in Tucson, Arizona. His grandmother “Baba” and grandfather Juro emigrated from Krusevice Serbia in 1911, and settled in the mining community of Globe, Arizona. His grandmother lived with the family as Dr. Vavich grew up, and he was always close with his mother Lillian. His mother passed while Dr. Vavich was in college at the University of Oregon, and as a result he switched his major from marine biology to medicine. Dr. Vavich graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1967, and graduated second in his class from John Hopkins School of Medicine in 1970.

During the Vietnam era, Dr. Vavich served in the public health corps at National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Maryland. Starting out as a young physician in Baltimore he worked in a free health clinic and eventually transitioned into medical practices in California, Alabama, and later to Texas. He chose the field of pediatrics due to his love of children and wanting to be of service to his community. Over the years, he worked tirelessly for special needs and child welfare. He loved being a physician, and his family recognized his devotion to serving his community.

Dr. Vavich is fondly remembered as a very sweet, gracious, patient, funny, loving, dedicated, loyal, gentle, and hardworking person. He was an avid sports fan, and enjoyed attending Houston Astros and Houston Rockets games. He enjoyed fishing, reading, sports radio, road trips, and tennis. His family, friends, and colleagues fondly remember his love of storytelling and jokes, and his eccentric humor was a touchstone of his interactions. He loved silly jokes and was never in short supply.

In his younger days, he prided himself on being a “snazzy” dresser, despite his color blindness. He had a love of classic rock, jazz, and classical music & played drums in high school marching band, in addition to playing the saxophone. He also had quite the talent for baton twirling in high school and college, even mastering twirling with fire. He was extremely proud of all of his children and immensely enjoyed seeing them grow and explore life. Dr. Vavich was one of a kind and his gentle spirit will be missed immensely.

In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be made to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The family is also working to establish a memorial scholarship at his alma mater Johns Hopkins should anyone wish to contribute via GiveCampus (details will be posted on Focus on Family FB page). Services will be held at Church of the Nazarene in Lake Jackson on Wednesday, August 21st at 11:30 a.m., with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall for close friends, family, and colleagues.

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