When a respected, loved member of the community passes away, grief and fond memories are shared. When a tragic accident claims the life unexpectedly, shock and exclamations of, “Why?”, compound the loss.
Dr. Frank Prosek was born October 31, 1946 an ocean away from South Florida. Unlike the thousands of refugees from Communism who come from Cuba, his life began in Czechoslovakia. In the rigid societal patterns, he should have remained on the farm with his family.
In what was to be later understood as his willingness to make his own way, he persisted in studies to overcome obstacles to achieve his doctoral degree where his work in discovering toxoplasmosis in pigs drew academic notice. In addition to academic excellence, he also took time to mentor students to help them realize their potential. Even though he held high status which meant his family was granted special privileges, the unrelenting oppression of daily life behind the Iron Curtain spurred him to risk escape. He took his family to Greece where they endured a difficult ten months before they were granted asylum to enter the United States. Despite the hardships, he showed strength of character that was a bedrock for those around him.
Initially in Maryland through the sponsorship of a church family, he was offered the opportunity to work in Homestead while he studied to gain his veterinarian license. His passion and caring for his animal patients and close bonds he formed with their owners was evident well before he was fully credentialed. He may have begun in the English Plaza Animal Hospital, but he added two other successful clinics during his career and his son, Robert, had every reason to want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Prosek’s 15-18 hour work days weren’t as easy to match.
Darcie Cordero, whose daughter later worked for him as a veterinary
technician, first met him when their German Shepard, Boy, was mauled by dogs next door. “Several times the dogs would drag Boy under the fence and beat him. One particular time it was so bad it was going to cost a couple thousand dollars to get him well. I called my husband and because of the financial situation we were in we decided to put him to sleep. I walked in crying and told the girl at the desk our decision. She left the desk and returned and told me that Doc wanted to see me. I went into the examining room and Boy was on the table. He said to me, ‘Mrs. Cordero, Boy and I have been through a lot together; I am going to fix him free of charge’. That's the way this amazing man was. I later had a Siamese cat that the last two years of his life he needed fluids weekly and we bonded then as well.”
Benny Robaina, owner of Benny’s Truck and Auto Repair, has known him and his son for twenty years. “He had a heart of gold and would do anything for a pet or a person. He was always there. Once we had to put a pet down and he stayed with us, talking. He understood what it was like and no matter how busy he was, he took the time to show his compassion. As a member of Rotary, we would go to him for support and he never turned us or anyone else in the community down. He touched a lot of people’s hearts and lives. When he retired, he would drop by here and sometimes bring us breakfast and just visit. More than anything, he was looking forward to having time to spend with his grandsons. Losing him like this isn’t fair.”
The fatal July 2, 2019 automobile accident was indeed met with disbelief. Family, friends, and colleagues gathered July 19, 2019 at Saint Justin Martyr Church in Key Largo, to express their love and admiration for a man who will be keenly missed.