Dr. Tazzi at Dr. Lee’s former practice in Albion, Mich.
When Kirk A. Lee, D.C. (Davenport '80), suddenly passed
away on Aug. 9, 2012, the Palmer community and the world
lost an accomplished practitioner as well as an outstanding
expert in the field of sports chiropractic. Dr. Lee not only
operated a solo practice in his hometown of Albion, Mich.,
but frequently traveled on weekends all over the nation, even
the world, to deliver lectures on sports chiropractic, and he
served as team chiropractor for several sports programs in his
community. This sad news came during Palmer's Davenport
Then-student Jacob Tazzi, D.C. (Davenport '12), was in the
midst of serving a preceptorship with Dr. Lee in his Albion
clinic. Later, in his salutatorian acceptance speech at the
October 2012 commencement ceremonies, Dr. Tazzi said,
"Though the world has experienced a devastating loss with
Dr. Lee's premature passing, it has allowed me to witness an
outpouring of unselfish acts of giving and caring in a difficult
time of need for his family, friends and patients."
"Friends and strangers from all walks of life offered to help
and comfort his family in any way they could," he added.
"Colleagues arrived to ensure that Dr. Lee's office would not
be without a doctor, and acts of kindness surrounded me as
his student, too. I was shocked that amidst such an awful
scenario, his family and colleagues approached me with
concerns about keeping my internship on track, while they
clearly were suffering from a very unexpected and painful loss."
These acts of kindness included the efforts of David Patterson,
M.A., D.C. (Davenport '86), a Davenport Campus Technique
Department faculty member who was a friend of Dr. Lee's and
had helped Jacob attain his preceptorship at Dr. Lee's clinic.
"After Dr. Lee's unfortunate departure last August, Jacob was
suddenly part of a clinic without a licensed, lead doctor on
site," Dr. Patterson says. "Therefore, he would have to leave
Dr. Lee's clinic and locate another clinic to preceptor in or
return to Davenport to complete his credits for graduation."
Dr. Patterson immediately contacted a colleague of his, Jason
Stanczak, D.C. (Davenport '05), of Roseville, Mich., who, without
hesitation, stepped forward and offered Jacob a place in
his clinic to complete the remaining preceptorship experience.
However, Dr. Patterson was also hoping for another option, and
that was to keep Dr. Lee's clinic open so that it would continue
caring for patients uninterrupted. Therefore, he began searching
for Palmer alumni in Michigan who could help out. With the
assistance of two remarkable students, he soon discovered that
Ervin Malcheff, D.C. (Davenport '69), member of the Palmer
Board of Trustees and long-time friend of Dr. Lee's, was also
"Here was the dilemma," Dr. Malcheff says. "Jacob was approximately
half-way through his preceptorship. Dr. Lee's widow,
Terri, had to close the office until she could either locate a
locum tenens practitioner or someone to purchase the practice.
In order to circumvent this loss of time for the preceptor, Dr.
Patterson asked if I knew of anyone in Michigan who could
mentor Jacob through the remainder of his preceptorship,
which would take approximately eight weeks."
Serendipitous timing comes into play at this point. "As luck
would have it, I retired from active practice on Aug. 13, 2012,"
Dr. Malcheff says, "and was available to accept this opportunity
to work with Jacob for the balance of his preceptorship.
Dr. Lee's office is only 30 miles from my home. At that point,
the Palmer office that directs the College's preceptorship
program stepped up to formalize the change in Dr. Tazzi's
preceptorship. My role was to be on the premises and able to
assist Jacob at any time during office hours. I elected to stay
out of the adjusting rooms unless Jacob requested my assistance.
We had lunch together each day to discuss the patients for the
day. If all of our graduates are as competent and proficient as
Jacob, and I believe they are, the future of our profession is in
good hands. I believe the clinical training our students receive
is second to none."
For his part, Dr. Tazzi is incredibly grateful for Dr. Malcheff's
generous gift of his time and experience, as well as Dr. Patterson's
efforts to find someone to keep Dr. Lee's practice and Jacob's preceptorship
going. "My unending thanks goes to Dr. Patterson for
providing the connection to Dr. Malcheff and giving me the
support I needed at a difficult time," he says. "What Dr.
Malcheff did was completely selfless, and I'm not sure I will
ever meet a man that is so giving without expecting anything
in return. The whole experience was a humbling demonstration
of charity and a willingness to help others in crisis and
need. We have some of the most giving and sincere doctors
on the planet helping people restore their lives with dignity."
Jacob concluded his graduation speech this way: "I truly believe
that I gained more of an education (at Palmer) than one could
ever put a price on. Not just academically, but the lessons I
have learned have been on the need to be there for others,
the importance of family and friends, and supporting and
maintaining professional relationships with fellow colleagues.
My only hope is to somehow give back to the profession and
serve to be at least half as influential as my mentors have
been to me throughout these past few months."
And if all of this isn't enough of a silver lining to the passing
of a great Palmer chiropractor, there is more. "After the loss of
Dr. Kirk, the Lee family worked with me to help with a smooth
transition," Dr. Tazzi adds. "Dr. Lee left some pretty large shoes
to fill, but I have made it my mission to continue his legacy by
keeping the day-to-day operations very similar to how they were
carried out previously. My goal is to continue to provide the
same quality of care to the Albion community that Dr. Lee had
given over the past 30 years."