Dr. Chatrachai “Chat” Virapongse, 68, passed away on August 8th, 2018 at Bartow Regional Hospital. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand on October 30th, 1949 and attended Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. In 1973, he received his medical degree from the University of Melbourne and completed his medical residency in radiology at St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven, CT. He then joined Yale University as faculty, becoming an Associate Professor and Chief of Neuro Computed Tomography. In 1985, he moved to Gainesville, FL to become Chief of Radiology at the V.A. Medical Center, earning a professorship in radiology from the University of Florida at the age of 39. In 1989, he began working at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, FL as a neuroradiologist, also serving as their radiology spokesperson for almost 9 years.
After retiring in 2014, he began a new career writing fiction and completed his first novel, The Billion-year Rose, in 2017. He had wide-ranging interests that included writing poetry, playing the guitar and piano, visiting national landmarks, photography, watching sports and road biking. Most of all, he loved reminiscing about his rich childhood in India, Australia and Thailand, and sharing his vision of a world filled with natural beauty where humanity could transcend conflict and find peace.
Chat is survived by his wife Jirawun Virapongse of Lakeland, FL; son Avarin Virapongse of Lakeland, FL; daughters Anunta Virapongse of Denver, CO and Arika Virapongse of Boulder CO; son-in law Mario Estabelini of Boulder, CO; granddaughter Ayamani Estabelini and soon-to-arrive grandson, both of Boulder, CO.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, August 18th at 2pm at Lakeland Funeral Home in Lakeland, with reception to follow.