Obituary: Victor John Joppich

Vale: Victor John Joppich, a chiropractor at Murray Valley Chiropractic Clinic in Murray Bridge, has died of natural causes while on holidays in Peru. Photo: Supplied.

Vale: Victor John Joppich, a chiropractor at Murray Valley Chiropractic Clinic in Murray Bridge, has died of natural causes while on holidays in Peru. Photo: Supplied.

Victor John Joppich was the third son born to Arnold and Lorris Joppich on January 8, 1965.

His parents were missionaries to Papua New Guinea, living on a small island off the coast of Madang.

The trip to the closest hospital entailed a boat trip to Madang, then going to the mission station to use a vehicle to traverse the windy and sometimes-not-there roads to Yagaum.

His journey to birth in many ways was represented in the way he lived life, his love of adventure and discovery of out-of-the-way places.

His first years on Graged Island, a tropical paradise, were full of delight and exploration, including a neighbour finding him in their newly bought bath.

The family of five said goodbye to the close-knit community when Victor was two and returned to South Australia, where they settled into a house on the family farm at Murray Town, 270 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Understandably, there was quite an adjustment to life in rural Australia.

Living on a farm, there were cows and sheep and chooks.

Victor’s daily job was to collect the eggs.

Unfortunately the roosters would size him up and attack him when his back was turned – there was no love lost between them.

As little as he liked the roosters, the foxes were more of a concern; so one spring day at the Melrose Show he purchased an inflatable tiger.

This very ferocious tiger would certainly protect the farm from those terrible “froxes”, as he called them.

When Victor was told that another baby was on the way, his first response was that it would resolve the problem of who would eat the last crumpet, considering they came in a pack of six.

At the age of eight, his family moved to Wilmington, a further 30km north, where his dad – a mechanic – had purchased a garage.

There is a reason why small businesses are called family businesses; they require all hands to be on deck.

For the younger children, this usually entailed serving petrol and filling up oil bottles; as they got older, other responsibilities were added.

Victor loved horses and spent many weekends riding with two other friends on a farm just north of Wilmington.

Finally, when he was 13, he was able to have his own two horses: Bambi and Stormy Mist, who lives in the back paddock of his home.

He spent many enjoyable – and some frustrating – hours with those horses.

His schooling was done locally until year 11, where he boarded at Immanuel College for his final two years.

He was very uncertain of which career path he would take.

His decision to pursue chiropractic was made as a result of seeing the benefits his family had received from chiropractic care.

As this decision was made in the final term of year 12, he was unsure whether his marks would support his choice.

During the summer months, he would stay with his aunt and uncle in Loxton and earn money picking fruit.

It was during this time, as he walked across their farm, God spoke to him, assuring him that he would get into his desired course.

At that stage he was able to complete the first year at Adelaide, and then was required to move to Melbourne for the completion of the course.

The transition to Melbourne was not so easy.

After the first semester he deferred, returned to South Australia and began to look for an apprenticeship in carpentry.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – there were no positions available.

He moved to Whyalla and worked in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, and thus began his love of Asian food.

After reassessing his options, he decided to recommence studies.

He shared a house with other uni students and life was much better this time.

As with most uni students, he had numerous part-time jobs, including being a kitchen hand and cleaning.

It was during this time that he connected with an on-campus Christian group known as Maranatha.

It was through their ministry that he experienced God in a new way – it was life-changing.

In fact, his newfound faith impacted his whole family, with each family member also experiencing the reality of God.

In 1989 he graduated and began practising in a clinic in Melbourne.

Later that year, a group from Maranatha decided to come to Adelaide to establish another campus ministry at Adelaide Uni.

Victor felt called to return to Adelaide and worked part-time so that he could assist with the set-up of the ministry.

A year later, the decision was made to set up his own clinic at Torrensville.

As with any new business, it took some time to establish, but his skills and his caring nature soon meant that he was a well respected and loved chiropractor.

For one patient who had a weekly appointment, the chiropractic treatment was probably secondary to the counselling session.

Victor always had a passion to travel, which he did with relative frequency.

Of all the places he visited, it was South America that won his heart.

In 2008 he decided to sell his practice and move to Colombia for a year to volunteer his skills.

While most westerners would steer well away from a country like Colombia, Victor revelled in the experiences and people he met.

He returned to Australia doing locum work before gaining a position in a chiropractic clinic in Lima, Peru.

He loved the culture and the experiences of living in South America, using his weekends to explore the beautiful landscapes and interesting destinations.

Although he had no intention to cause offence, his genuine care for people surpassed societal norms.

It was his caring nature that eventually caused him to finish up his job in Peru.

Time limits for a consult were imposed upon him.

As his personal practice entailed not just manipulation, but also deep tissue massagement to maximise the benefit of the manipulation, he felt that he could not be genuine to himself or his patients under these constraints.

So he again returned to Australia.

He continued to do locum work before settling at Murray Valley Chiropractic Clinic.

This entailed an hour's drive each way.

Although to many it would have made sense to move to Murray Bridge, his love of the sea kept him in Adelaide.

Again, this love of the sea replicated his early childhood, where his home on the island was just 20 metres from the sea, and swimming was a daily event.

On August 2 he flew out of Australia to Lima, Peru, embarking on a four-week holiday.

Sadly, on August 5 he experienced a heart attack that would take his life.

As sad and as heartbreaking as his death was, there are so many things for which those who knew him were grateful: that God placed him in their lives, for the faith that he had and his desire to serve the Lord with all that he had, that he was special and unique, for the hope that they had , and for knowing that he has gone to his forever home and met the one he loved.