Yakima doctor still missing one year later

YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's been almost a year since a retired Yakima doctor disappeared while on a mission in Ukraine. Dr. Jay Sloop's family, friends, and the community gathered Saturday to celebrate his life.

"We come to lift up a loved one."

And they did come. Dr. Jay Sloop touched many in the community.

"It is indeed a privilege," said Fred Hardinge, one of Sloop's colleagues.

Sloop has been a doctor in Yakima for more than three decades. His family says helping people become healthy was important to him. That's why he went to Kiev with the Yakima Adventist Church to set up a new lifestyle clinic.

"It was honestly his passion," said Richard Sloop, Jay Sloop's son.

But that trip to Kiev was the last time anyone has seen him. Cameras showed him walking into a park, but not out.

The family says search teams, the police, the U.S. embassy and many others tried to find Sloop. But days turned into weeks, then months, and now almost a year since the 77-year-old went missing.

"It's difficult not having answers, for everyone. We're confident, however, that every reasonable step to find out what happened has been taken," said Richard Sloop.

So those who knew Sloop focus on what time they did have with him.

"But I am so grateful for all the years we did get, for the time and the love he invested in us. I'm thankful for the stories we have to tell. And I may be biased, but I think he was the best grandpa there ever was," said Jenny Sloop, Jay's granddaughter.

Sharing memories helped with the healing.

"I remember I asked my father why he wasn't ticklish. He told us he had four sisters," said son Randal Sloop.

Laughs were shared - and some tears as well.

"A deep sense of loss that the last year I have not had the opportunity of talking with Dr. Jay," said Fred Hardinge.

The family says they are still dealing with their loss and continue to stay in contact with the U.S. State Department in hopes of finding Dr. Sloop, but no new leads have turned up.

"There's nothing more that we can do," said Richard Sloop.

So they reminisce and share fond memories.

"He took us on a cousins- and granddaddy-only camping trip," said Jenny Sloop.

And take comfort in their faith.


At the service, the president of the Ukraine Union of Seventh-day Adventists announced that part of a medical center in Kiev will be named after Jay Sloop.