Other famous Chods
* 23.03.1853, Trhanov
| A renowned figure among doctors from the Chod region,
Dr. Josef Thomayer, was then and still remains today, Trhanovec’s native
son. His outstanding contributions to the field of internal medicine and neurology are best left to the experts to evaluate. Here we will remember and pay a brief tribute to Josef Thomayer, the man and the author.
He was born March 23, 1853, the son of a gardener of the lord’s estate responsible for grooming the stadium in Trhanovec. Shortly after his birth the family moved into a cottage downhill from the estate garden and it was here that Josef Thomayer, together with his four siblings, spent his childhood and adolescence.
He was a conscientious student and after graduating from Klatovsky grammar school he left home to study medicine in Prague. Vacations, however, were always spent in Chodsko, the place of his birth. Here he went for long walks, taking in the beauty of nature, the people, their customs and nourishing his sensitive soul.
His first ‘belles lettres’ piece he wrote as a seventeen-year-old student. For three years it remained in a briefcase and it wasn’t until 1873, with the launch of the magazine Lubomir, that he got up the courage, under the pseudonym, R. E. Jamot, to make his work public. He expected criticism and mockery, but Jan Neruda as well as the poet J.V. Sladek recommended that he continue with his writing and release his work to be published. The result was his first book 'Priroda a lide' (Nature and People). In it he author, supported with illustrations of the surrounding Trhanovec countryside, depicts the life of animals and birds throughout the four seasons of the year.
During his studies at the Klatovsky grammar school, Thomayer became acquainted with Jaroslav Vrchlik, ensuing in a lifelong friendship. As a university student in Prague he came in contact with many notable individuals within the cultural community. He became a member of the Association of Artists and through Jan Neruda he met Jakub Arbes and Svatopluk Cech.
He valued his friendship with Mikulas Elas, and when, in 1888 Alois Jirasek came to Prague, he became his closest friend. For years they went on long Sunday outings together and it was J. Thomayer who brought A. Jirasek to the Chod region.
Under the title 'Vedle Cesty' (Along the Road) Thomayer published his short stories, which he dedicated to A. Jirasek and J. Vrchlicek. These were followed shortly by 'Po ruznych ztezkach' (Miscellaneous Recollections), dedicated to Zikmund Winter. In the book 'Zloutne listi' (Turning of the Leaves), which he wrote shortly after reaching the age of 50, he recounted life’s minor adventures.
Thomayer’s achievements can be divided into five main themes: nature, travel, major characters, minor characters and subjects from the medical milieu as well as from the literary and artistic. He had a special gift of storytelling, spark, wit and humor. Since he was a personal doctor to many Czech writers, poets, actors, painters and sculptors, he provided us with an opportunity to peer into their lives by way of his literary memoirs.
At the age of 56 he built an almshouse accommodating four families and each family received 400 crowns from him each year. His concern with the plight of tuberculosis victims, epileptics, chronically ill children, bears testimony to his deep social commitment.
Thomayer, who went through the school of hard knoks in his life, didn’t like whining, pampering and weakness of character. He claimed that many incompetent students were thronging into the universities and, therefore, he requested that the criteria for admission to the medical faculty be more rigorous albeit just. He was a man of broad vision and extensive interests, a man who exerted enormous influence on his students. He encouraged them to take interest not only in the professional aspect of their studies, but also in cultural life, the arts and politics. He awakened in them a love for Prague as well as other historic sites in the Czech region and Moravia. His first textbook was dedicated to the memory of the Prague obstetrician Ant, Jungman and the physiologist Jana Ev. Purkyně.
With the advancing years he enjoyed his wide circle of friends more and more. Josef Thomayer, being aware of the declining years of his life, continued with rigid discipline his Sunday afternoon walks through Prague with his friends A. Jirasek and K.V. Rais.
He retired in 1921 at the age o 68, but continued with his scientific and literary work. Aware of the inexorable law s of life he put his house in order. He willed his money to the local school fund, his extensive book collection to the University library, ‘plastiky’, sculptures and paintings to the gallery. He donated money and furniture to family in the Chod region.
Josef Thomayer never married, remaining alone throughout his life, however, his sisters and their children substituted as family. He died October 24th, 1927 and was buried in his parents’ grave in the Trhanovec cemetery.
(Domazlicky Zpravoday, volume 24, number 5, May 2002)
Prof. dr. Josef Cisler
Prof. dr. Frantisek Samberger
Prof. dr. Josef Pelnar
Prof. dr. Antonin Randa
Prof. dr. Jiri Hoetzel
Prof. dr. Emanueel Radl
Karel Matej Capek-Chod
Ivan Prantisek Hruska
‘Ceskobratrsky’ theologian and linguist