The family of the Yakima doctor who disappeared in Ukraine last May is planning a service to celebrate his life.
Dr. Jay Sloop, a retired obstetrician, was in Kiev, Ukraine, on a service trip with the Seventh-day Adventist Church when he headed out on a routine early morning walk and never returned.
The investigation focused on a large park in the center of the city known as Zomkova Gora, because a security camera recorded the 77-year-old Sloop strolling into the park the morning of May 14. However, there is no footage of him leaving either park gate.
Search parties scoured the park, which encompasses a big, flat-topped hill covered in trees that rises above the neighborhood. Formerly home to a 14th century castle, there is now an old cemetery on top and steep slopes with dense vegetation. Most visitors take a metal staircase to the top, but there are trails as well.
Despite the searches and an investigation by Ukraine police, no substantial leads ever emerged.
“We know little more than we did a few days after he disappeared,” said son Greg Sloop from Portland last week.
On a blog he set up to update friends and family on the search, Sloop announced the family had decided to hold a celebration of his father’s life on April 26.
“Dad has had a large impact on lots of people in the community, not just us,” Sloop said. “It feels right to acknowledge that he’s not with us and it’ll be a time to remember who he was when he was here.”
It’s been a hard year for the Sloop family not knowing what happened that day in Kiev. Jay and his wife of 46 years, Sharlene, have three sons and six grandchildren. He had a private practice in Yakima from 1969 to 2005.
The celebration this spring will be almost a year after his disappearance.
“The probability that he is still alive after all this time is slim,” said Dr. Richard Sloop, another son who works in Yakima as a neurologist. “But, obviously, we just don’t know what happened.”
The spring event will be a good time to create a small sense of closure for everyone involved, Richard Sloop said.
“There are some people convinced that he’s no longer alive. There are other people convinced that he’s alive somewhere and will someday return,” Greg Sloop said. “We can be proud of his effect on this community when he was still in our lives, whether he comes back or not.”
The ceremony, he said, is to bring everyone who cared about his father together to celebrate, regardless of what they believe happened last spring in Ukraine.
“There’s a lot he’s done for all of us and it’ll be good to honor that,” Richard Sloop said. “If by a miracle of God he showed up two weeks later, he wouldn’t mind.”