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1933 - 2014

John D. Geisler, M.D. (I ’66, P ’69)

John Douglas Geisler, M.D., born Nov. 20, 1933, died peacefully in his Napa home on April 19, 2014, at the age of 80. He was surrounded by his adoring and devoted family.

John was an enthusiastic lover of life, nature and lifelong learning. He was a respected psychiatrist who was genuinely dedicated to helping his patients journey back to wellness.

He was an expert bird watcher who identified more than 1,000 species in Europe and in both North and South America. He was a history buff who read more than 30 books on Lincoln alone.

He was a talented photographer whose striking and creative photographs now hang in the homes of numerous relatives, friends and acquaintances. He was a lover of art who once flew to Chicago just to see an Impressionist exhibition.

He was an avid golfer and sports enthusiast who always read the “Green” section of the newspaper first. Most importantly, perhaps, John was a passionately devoted and loving father to his four children, and he was a caring, generous and empathic friend who went out of his way to help others in need.

John was born in 1933 in New York City at the height of the Great Depression. He was raised in the New York City suburbs. In the process of becoming an Eagle Scout, he developed a passion for the outdoors and nature, with birds becoming his particular fixation and love.

After graduating from the Stony Brook School (cum laude), he attended Wheaton College (Illinois), where he met and married Doris Olson, the mother of his four children. Following graduation from Wheaton, John attended Baylor Medical School in Houston, earning an M.D. degree in 1959.

After completing a year’s internship in St. Louis and a year of surgical residency in Hartford, Conn., he joined the U.S. Army as a captain and served four years in Germany, directing a medical dispensary that served more than 10,000 servicemen and their dependents. During those four years, he and his growing family traveled all over Europe in a VW bug, visiting 33 countries.

Subsequent to his discharge from the Army, John took a residency in psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Upon completing his residency, he sought warmer climes and moved his family to Modesto, Calif., in 1969, where he established a Department of Psychiatry at the Gould Medical Group.

After practicing psychiatry in Modesto for 21 years, he felt the call of the ocean and moved to Carmel, Calif., opening a practice in nearby Monterey in 1990.

In 1996, John decided to close his Monterey practice and move to Napa, where his brother Dick lived, to work as a psychiatrist at Napa State Hospital. John genuinely loved his job at the hospital, where he thrived on working closely with the staff treating seriously ill patients. Unfortunately, John had to take an early medical retirement in 2006, due to congestive heart failure.

In his retirement, John never let grass grow underneath his feet, despite his health problems. He embraced life to the fullest and — within the limits set by his declining health — set out to learn and experience as much as possible. He took up bocce ball and gourmet cooking, and after enrolling in photography classes at Napa Valley College, he traveled with classmates to Italy on a picture-taking trip. He loved playing Scrabble and opened up his house on many weekends to host Scrabble tournaments. He savored the great restaurants and fine wines of the Napa Valley and frequently commented on how fortunate he was to make his home here.

John was preceded in death by his parents, Edna (nee Neblett) and Christian Geisler. He is survived by his two brothers, C. Daniel (Peg) Geisler of Madison, Wis., and J. Richard (Barrie) Geisler of Napa; his four children, Laura (Kirk) Blattman of San Ramon, Calif., Dan Geisler of Hermosa Beach, Calif., Cheryl Geisler of Englewood, Colo., and James Geisler of Portland, Ore.; his seven grandchildren, Amber, Heather and Danny Geisler, Andrew and Julia Blattman, Soren Peterson and Weston Gardner; and his two great-grandchildren, Christian and Cameron Peoples. John is also survived by his beloved friend, Mary Hammond of Mill Valley, Calif., and by his former wife of 33 years, Doris Olson Geisler of Modesto, Calif., with whom he always remained good friends. John also cherished his two dearest buddies, David Lucy of Merced, Calif., and Scott Nixon of Napa.

John’s family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the many Napa physicians who expertly administered to John, and to the compassionate and caring staff at both Queen of the Valley Medical Center and Napa Valley Hospice. In lieu of flowers, John requested that donations be made to the National Audubon Society, Attention: Audubon Angel, 225 Varick St., Seventh Floor, NY 10014; or Queen of the Valley Medical Center Foundation, 1000 Trancas St., Napa, CA 94558.

A celebration of John’s life will be held on Saturday, June 14, from 3-6 p.m., at the Andretti Winery, 4162 Big Ranch Road, Napa. All those who would like to share in celebrating John’s life are invited. Please contact Dick Geisler at (707) 257-3146 or email him at for more information.

Obituary courtesy of the Napa Valley Register.

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