Paul Ivan Yakovlev 1894-1983
André Roch Lecours
Those who knew him will cherish their memories of the kind, sensitive, gentle man who was a trusted and loyal friend, adviser, mentor, confidant, and constant source of inspiration.
-- Thomas Kemper, 1984.
Turetz ( Russia) is situated at 55.22 degrees North and 29.15 degrees East of the Greenwich meridian, at the median point of a line separating the Orient from the Occident.1 It is there, in the wealthy domain of his maternal grandfather, that Paul Ivan Yakovlev is born on December 15 (Julian calendar) or 28 (Gregorian calendar) of the year 1894. As an aristocrat, his mother speaks French with members of her family (Russian is a language one should speak with servants or at the market, but not with one's kins); his father is a retired imperial army officer. Paul is very young when his mother dies and he is only 9 years old when, at his father's death, he goes to live in Wilno with his mother's younger sister, a widow (with three daughters), who is the director of a private gymnasium for girls.
As an adolescent, he decides that he will become a philologist and historian, or else a painter and a sculptor. But time passes and he changes his mind about his future: He thinks of his paternal grandfather, who has been a military surgeon, and he starts considering medicine as a career. An artist has to be a genius or else one isn't worth while . . . but in medicine all you have to do is read____________________