June 2, 1926 – February 3, 2020
Witold was born in Warsaw, Poland. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Witold, along with many Polish youth, joined the Polish Underground Army to fight the German occupiers by diversion and sabotage. Seized by the Gestapo in 1941 Witold was imprisoned in the concentration camp Auschwitz. In 1943 Witold was transferred to another camp Neuengamme near Hamburg. In April 1945 when the front of Anglo-American Forces moved eastward, all concentration camps were to be annihilated. Neuengamme camp was evacuated and 8000 prisoners were loaded onto two German ships and ordered to be destroyed by U-boats on the 4th of May. At noon on the 3rd of May a few British Typhoon war planes bombed and sank both ships. Only 385 prisoners survived, Witold among them. After two years of recuperation in Sweden, Witold returned to Warsaw, completed medical studies, specializing in Orthopedic Surgery. In 1963 he moved to Canada, completed his specialty in Plastic Surgery and taught physiology at McGill University.
In 1968, together with his wife Wanda, Professor of Pediatrics, Witold founded the Home for Children in Hamilton, Ontario. This Home exists still today as Rygiel’s Community Services. In 1974 the Rygiels moved to Arizona, where in Lake Havasu City they continued to practice. Witold completed his third specialty in Cosmetic Surgery and founded the Medical Art Center which was awarded by the City. In 1989 both Rygiels returned to Canada and settled at Mabel Lake, later moving to Vernon BC. Witold, besides his profession, enjoyed classical music, sailing, flying, skiing and raising Alsatian dogs. His life passion was sculpting and painting. He was very active in supporting the SPCA , Canadian Wild Life Federation, MS Society, and others.
Witold was a man of integrity, courage, and strong principles. He had a very generous heart always helping those in need. He will be very much missed by his family and friends. A private memorial celebration will take place at a later date.
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