Born in Nice, France, March 29, 1883, Carl (in early years ‘Karl’) Frederick Reppun was the son of Frederick William and Fredericka (Koene) Reppun.
Carl’s father was of Swedish descent and his mother Dutch, but both subjects of Russia in the Baltic province of Riga, Latvia, where the two families had lived for 200 years.
He was well traveled in Europe and appeared to enjoy an outdoor life with many activities such as riding, skiing, hiking and sailing.
Reppun was educated in the schools of Nice, France, and Cassel, Germany, before entering and graduating with a medical degree from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, Medizinische Facultat, Munich, Bavaria, in 1910.
In 1911, he married Emily Jane Lewis of Llein, Wales, in London, England. Carl and Emily honeymooned in Norway by taking a hike through the wilderness.
He took a further degree in 1912 from the University of Moscow Faculty of Medicine, and did post-graduate work in Vienna. He became a medical doctor.
In 1913, he had several career options: he could have become an apprentice to a Moscow surgeon or he could have chosen offers to set up a practice of medicine in Archangel (within the Arctic Circle), or in Irkutsk on Lake Baikal in far-eastern Siberia.
He chose to be the only physician in the mining or steel mill town of Tirljian which is on the Siberian side of the Southern Urals between European and Asiatic Russia.
The town of Tirljian was located approximately 50 +/- miles from Byeloretsk, to the southwest on the Byelaya (about 30-35 miles as the crow flies). With a population at that time of around 20-30,000, it was large enough to warrant its own hospital. There was no railway through Tirljian and all the roads were dirt.
The hospital complex was located at the edge of a forest whereas the town itself was about a mile away (twenty minutes by horse) to the east “down a gentle hill”.
The town was visible from the hospital/house. The hospital was a one-story log building with a capacity of around 50 beds. The house had an enclosed courtyard.
There were additionally servants quarters, a storehouse, stables with a covered portion for the carriages, and housing for farm animals. “Our house faced away to a fenced-in garden, beyond which was the forest on one side, fields and a grassy slope downhill to the village.” (Fred Reppun; Cupertino)
At the outbreak of World War I, Dr. Reppun was practicing medicine as a mining company doctor in the village of Tirljian, in the Ural Mountains between European and Asiatic Russia. He was the only doctor in a radius of 50 miles.
Being a Russian subject, he was mobilized into the Czar’s army, but remained in Tirljian as the head of the hospital, converted into a military one for the care of the wounded shipped back from the front.
When the Russian Revolution came in 1917, Dr. Reppun was chief of the hospital; he then had occasion to treat both the royalist Cossack wounded and the Bolshevik wounded, depending upon which side happened to be in local control.
The Reppuns escaped eastward in one carriage with one horse, the baggage being in another cart driven by a peasant and his family, they traveled a thousand miles over the Siberian steppes, going along the least frequented byways to Omsk.
At Omsk, the Reppuns met the advance point of the American Red Cross, which had come there to set up a large hospital under the direction of Dr. Arthur F. Jackson of Honolulu.
Reppun was immediately commandeered to assist the Red Cross doctors in their tremendous task. As the Red Cross and the American Expeditionary Forces withdrew toward Vladivostok 3,000 miles away, the Reppun family went along. Mrs. Reppun became a matron in charge of one of the Red Cross nursing homes in Vladivostok.
While in Vladivostok, the family reviewed options as to where to re-locate. They considered Japan, China and the Philippines, along with Hawaii
Due to, but due to the influence of Dr Jackson and Riley Allen of Honolulu, they opted to try Hawai‘i. In mid-1920, the Reppun family finally evacuated Russia aboard the last ship taking American personnel to Tsurugu, Japan.
They traveled across Japan, stopping for a short stay in Kyoto, then on to Nagasaki and thence to Honolulu aboard the Army transport S.S. Sheridan. Two weeks later on July 4, 1920, they sailed on the Army Transport “Sheridan” for Honolulu, and stayed there.
Dr. Reppun first started practice in Honolulu with the late Dr. Bert Mobbs on Beretania Street. In 1923, he went to Kaneohe as Government Physician of the Ko‘olaupoko-Waimanalo District, and as physician for Libby, McNeill & Libby at Kahalu‘u.
In 1927, he gave up the Kaneohe practice completely. Following his one and only visit to the mainland, in 1937, Dr. Reppun suffered serious injuries in a car accident from which he never fully recovered. He died on June 7, 1940, at The Queen’s Hospital, at the age of 57. (Reppun; Hawaii Medical Journal, 1966)
The Reppuns had three sons: ‘Frederick’ and Eric, born in Russia, and Arthur, born in Hawaii in 1921.) Eric was manager of the Kona operation of Robert Hind, Ltd. on the Big Island and Arthur was with Pan-American World Airways in Tokyo.
John Iorwerth Frederick (‘Frederick’) Reppun also became a doctor. In 1968 the Honolulu County Medical Society named him Medical Father of the year. In 1974, he was honored by the Hawaii Medical Association at the Association as Physician of the Year. Dr Frederick Reppun was my doctor when I was a kid growing up on Kāne‘ohe Bay Drive.