Dr. Teresa Magda Mische of Olga, Orcas Island, naturopathic physician, pharmacist, and outdoor adventurer, passed away Feb. 13 while on a dive trip in the Bahamas. She was 63.
Dr. Mische had successfully completed a morning drift dive off Exuma Key when she suddenly lost consciousness. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. She was airlifted to Nassau, where she was pronounced dead.
Born in Rockville Centre, N.Y. on Feb. 11, 1949, Dr. Mische was the first child of Greta and Joseph Mische. She graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1967 and earned her BS in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut in 1971.
After graduation she traveled West and fell in love with the Grand Canyon. She put her pharmacy career on hold to live there, managing Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, for two years while she backpacked thousands of miles and learned to row the big whitewater of the Colorado River.
Her love of adventure led Magda on a 19-month world trek in 1977, traveling through Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and Russia — working and living the entire way.
On her return to America in 1979, she worked as a registered pharmacist in Vancouver, Wash., while pursuing her doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Dr. Mische graduated from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore., in 1990, and moved to Orcas Island, where she worked at Ray’s Pharmacy and maintained her naturopathic practice for the next 22 years.
A lover of wild places, Magda was happiest in nature, especially on and in the water. Although she traveled and lived all over the world, it was the majesty of the Grand Canyon that beckoned her time and time again. In all, she made some 23 Canyon trips down the Colorado River, most of them at the oars of her trusty Avon 14 foot raft.
Her active life led to more than a few injuries, including a broken back. Each time she bounced back and pressed on undaunted — hiking, climbing, river rafting, sea kayaking, and in 2009 became a certified diver. She credited the caring and support of the Orcas Island community, her family, and her many friends for her courage to heal.
Dr. Mische is survived by her partner, Dr. Alexandra Gayek; her brother, Philip Mische, his wife, Sheenah, and her nephews Jack and Nik, all of Ridgefield, Conn.; her brother, Eric Mische, and his wife, Danielle, and nieces Alyssa, Sarah, and Deanna of Oregon City, Ore; cousins Karen, Eric, Peter, and Rannveig Hoffman of Norway. Her father died in 1995, her mother in 2002, and her sister Florence Lotspeich in 2004.
A celebration of her life will take place at the Orcas Center on Orcas Island at 4 p.m. on June 24. Friends are encouraged to contact Dr. Gayek to contribute photos and stories in advance of the event. Donations may be made in Dr. Mische’s honor to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
– Submitted by Alexandra Gayek.