Dr. Ramon Mendiola, who served as the first general surgeon at Lakeview Clinic, and Wes Schiffler, a successful businessman whose friendship and commitment to family, friends and community proved inspirational to many, were among the members of the Waconia community that recently passed away.
Dr. Ramon Mendiola
Born in the Philippines, Mendiola graduated from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines before completing his surgery training at Mount Sinai Hospital in Minneapolis and Anchor Hospital in St. Paul.
Starting in July 1965, Mendiola was the first general surgeon at Lakeview Clinic. After a successful career that spanned more than three decades, he retired in December 1995. Mendiola was a member of the AMA and the Lions Club. He was also a cantor and an original member of St. Joseph’s Guitar Choir. Mendiola was a member of the Praise Ensemble and Funeral Choirs. He enjoyed music and sports, especially golf, football and basketball.
Mendiola passed away at the age of 83 on Tuesday, Oct. 1. He is survived by his wife, Theresa, their six children, and many other family members and friends.
Dr. Don Somers, President of Lakeview Clinic, reflected on Mendiola’s life and career, noting that Mendiola joined Drs. John Clark and Jon Wempner when he started at Lakeview Clinic in 1965.
“He was on call daily for the first 25 years of his career — this is unheard of today,” Somers said. “Before the addition of surgical specialists in Waconia, Dr. Mendiola not only performed all the general surgery for Lakeview, but also provided orthopedic and gynecologic surgery as well.”
Somers described Mendiola as a dedicated surgeon who always placed his patients’ needs and interests foremost.
“He was a calming influence in the operating room, often whistling show tunes, even during the most stressful situations,” Somers recalled. “His physician partners would describe him as a humble and honorable man, dedicated to his profession and family alike. Lakeview Clinic and the broader Waconia community were extremely fortunate to have Dr. Mendiola in our lives.”
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was held for Mendiola at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waconia on Friday, Oct. 4. To read Mendiola’s obituary, please see Page 11 in the Oct. 10 Patriot.
A Melrose native, Schiffler received his undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University and his MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business.
After working for Cargill for 16 years, Schiffler created his own investment business. Aside from his successful business career, Schiffler will be remembered for his devotion to his family — wife Shanna and their four children — and his commitment to being a good friend, neighbor and member of the community. He was known for helping create fun neighborhood traditions and events and coaching many area youth sports teams.
Schiffler passed away at the age of 42 after a 31-month fight against brain cancer on Monday, Sept. 30.
One example of his impact on the community is the support he received during his battle with cancer. His Relay For Life of Waconia team, Wes’ Walking Warriors, raised more than $30,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in 2012, a feat that earned recognition as Minnesota’s overall top fundraising team of the year from the ACS. Wes’ Walking Warriors shattered that mark in 2013, raising more than $35,000.
Schiffler’s impact is perhaps best described by those who knew him, people like Dennis and Laura Mohling, who first met the Schifflers 10 years ago when they moved into the same neighborhood.
“As the first family to move onto our block, Wes and Shanna created a culture of generosity and community that defines our group of neighbors and friends,” Dennis said. “Wes is a role model to me in several ways. He was a fantastic neighbor — the kind of guy who would happily loan you anything and just as you would feel a little sheepish about hauling another load from his backyard say, ‘Dennis, whatever is mine is yours.’ This was his genuine sentiment.”
Dennis described Wes as a wonderful husband who adored his wife and let it show in his actions.
“He was also an amazing dad, finding endless energy to create games to play with the kids,” he added. “Wes influenced many people in Waconia and I think part of his legacy is leaving a community of better neighbors, more devoted husbands, and more involved fathers.”
Laura, who was a co-captain of Wes’ Walking Warriors, noted that everyone hopes to leave a legacy that reflects their values and she feels that Wes achieved that.
“Wes lived his life in such a way that anyone who encountered him knew that he valued his family and personal relationships above all else,” she said. “Wes was the dad always in the backyard with his children: playing in the lake, hosting batting practice, building bonfires, raising ducklings, or teaching the kids a new game.”
Laura said Wes was devoted to his children but always welcomed and nurtured the neighbor kids who were drawn to his backyard.
“He listened attentively to toddler stories and as those toddlers grew to teenagers, he continued to play with them, listen to them and show that he was interested in them,” she said, noting that Wes shared his passions further by coaching any sport that his kids chose to play. “As a patient and encouraging coach, he touched the lives of hundreds of children in our community.”
Laura said that Wes’ cancer diagnosis did not change his spirit.
“If anything, he made it more of a priority to show his kids and anyone paying attention that each day is a gift. He taught us all to live courageously, choose optimism, graciously accept a path not chosen and never fail to help others along the way,” she said.
“When we were unsure about his path this summer, we thought we would take a year off from Relay For Life. But, not surprisingly, Wes felt strongly about completing our third Relay year as Wes’ Walking Warriors. He made a tremendous impact in the fight against cancer through his fundraising. More importantly, his passionate example influenced our children and instilled in them the importance of giving back and making a difference.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was held for Schiffler at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waconia on Thursday, Oct. 3. To learn more about Schiffler, please read his obituary on Page 8 in the Oct. 10 Patriot.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]