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Doctor to honor wife with free flu shot clinic
Dr. Roberto Canizares will sponsor a free flu shot clinic next month in memory of his late wife

 Drs. Teresita and Roberto Canizares are surrounded by (from left) their daughter Florinda Chun and her husband, Walter; son Arthur Canizares and daughter Rosie Canizares. The grandchildren are Luke, Sam and Emma Chun.
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Date published: 9/14/2009

BY JIM HALL

Dr. Roberto Canizares and Dr. Teresita Canizares were regulars at the flu shot clinic sponsored each year by local Philippine doctors.

For more than 15 years, the husband-and-wife team were volunteer vaccinators as hundreds of people stood in line for free flu shots.

But Teresita Canizares died last year at age 66 of lung cancer. And, unrelated to her death, the Philippine doctors stopped sponsoring their annual event.

So Roberto Canizares decided that a good way to remember his wife would be to once again give away flu shots.

Canizares has teamed with the Fredericksburg Health Department and Passport Health, a company that specializes in travel immunizations, to offer 500 free flu shots.

The shots will be given at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Health Department office at 608 Jackson St. in Fredericksburg.

The clinic is open to all. The shots are meant to protect against the seasonal flu--not swine flu--and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We always worked together," Canizares said. "This is the first time I will give this without her."

Canizares, 68, and his wife met as classmates at medical school at Far Eastern University in Manila.

They came to the United States in 1968 and married the next year in Baltimore.

She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. He was a surgeon.

The couple had two children when they bought a home and moved to Spotsylvania County. They had one more child there, Rosie.

Rosie Canizares recently graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy from Duke University. She works now at Duke.

Her sister, Florinda, and her brother, Arthur, also graduated from Duke.

"I tell people that because my parents were both physicians, I always knew I would end up somewhere in the health care field," Rosie Canizares said.

Roberto Canizares eventually gave up his surgical privileges at Mary Washington Hospital and concentrated on general practice in King George County.

Teresita Canizares went to work for the Rappahannock Area Health District. For 29 years, she treated patients at its maternity clinics.

"She was here right up until the very end," said Michele Winters-Callender, nurse manager for the health district. "She had the most fantastic, optimistic outlook I have ever seen."

Roberto Canizares still sees patients six days a week at his King George office.

Each weekday, after he closes the office, he stops at the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter in Fredericksburg on his way home to Spotsylvania.

For about an hour each night, "Dr. C," as he's called there, tends to the residents.

He's been visiting the shelter without pay since it opened 21 years ago.

"He's indispensable," said Bunny Melzer, executive director.

Canizares said he's given no thought to retirement. It's therapeutic for him to keep working now that his wife is gone.

He called her "Nanay," the Philippine word for mother, he said.

She called him "Tatay," or father.

They were married almost 40 years.

Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
Email: jhall@freelancestar.com