Rudy Blaskiewicz: Making the best of life at Ely’s Nursing Home

by Pam Roberts

Rudy Blaskiewicz was a regular visitor at the Ely Bloomenson Nursing Home when his beloved wife Sophie became a resident there in 1999. Rudy would help care for her twice a day, every day, every day of the week, helping to feed her. He also handed out water and napkins or bibs to the other residents. <BR><BR>When Sophie died in January of 2002, Rudy waited a couple weeks, and then returned to visiting the nursing home, serving just as he had when Sophie was alive, to keep her memory lingering on, feeding others instead. <BR><BR>He still misses his wife Sophie and tears well up thinking of her. They would have been married 60 years the month she died. Rudy is thankful to all the people for the help they gave him when his wife was sick. After she died they still helped him out. <BR><BR>Rudy served at the nursing home two more years after his wife died and became a resident himself last January 2004. Now he must adjust to being the one served. He says he “gets along all right. They’re nice here and help out as much as they can.” <BR><BR>It is not that he likes it that much at the nursing home, it’s that he gets along with so many of the people and they help him out too, so it’s like a family for him. Everyone from the top to all corners of the nursing home and hospital knows Rudy from his years of serving and he is greatly loved. He is adjusting and making the best of life’s changes and challenges. <BR><BR>Rudy will soon be moving into a new private room in the nursing home that has been recently renovated. He will miss having a partner, since he has enjoyed his roommate Howard so much, but he will have to invite more people over. He plays cribbage… if anyone wants to play a game. <BR><BR>He makes a lot of projects, keeping occupied, but it will feel more like home when he gets some gladiolas planted on the grounds. When the frost danger is minimal he’ll be out planting. <BR><BR>Even though there is a lot going on at the nursing home, the thing Rudy enjoys most is reading the Bible and going to Bible study and prayer times at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. He has a little trouble getting rides but hopes he will find it a little easier as time goes on. He misses the independence of being able to drive himself. <BR><BR>Rudy was born in Manitoba, Canada on August 23, 1914, the oldest of three boys. The family moved to Chicago when he was eight and he graduated there in 1932. Jobs were scarce so he joined the army reserves in the 3rd Field Artillery, 1935-38. At that time it was horse drawn and he had to care for 40 to 50 horses as they would travel from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, the winter headquarters, to the summer head quarters in Sparta, Wisconsin. They would basically camp out along the way, fishing and hunting. He completed his three year enlistment during peace time. <BR><BR>For a while Rudy was a bundler at a box factory he met his sweetheart Sophie. He not only had decided to reenlist into the army for better or for worse during wartime January of 1942, he also decided to marry Sophie and it certainly was for the better. Rudy was assigned to Aviation Ordinance, stationed in Riverside, California. <BR><BR>He returned home to marry Sophie on October 14, 1942. Back in California, he attended armament school, studying bombs and bomb fuses. He participated in some trial bombing runs and firing and was sent again to school for gunnery. He was shipped to Sterling Island, a coral reef in the Solomon Group of islands and was moved around about every six months until he got to the Philippine Islands in the Pacific Combat Area. He was a shipping officer in charge of loading and unloading all equipment and material. <BR><BR>During this time the Japanese were bombing quite regularly. Even though Rudy was very familiar with bombs and being bombed, he was hit with the unexpected. One night on the way to the shower, which was about two blocks from his tent, a sudden storm broke out without warning. Ironically, a cluster of three coconuts were blown from a tree and made a direct hit to Rudy’s head, knocking him unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a cerebral contusion and was kept there for two weeks. The first night in the hospital they were bombed by the Japanese and all personnel that could be moved were taken to the trenches until the all clear was sounded. Rudy did recover and his buddies claimed his head was harder than the coconuts. <BR><BR>When the war was over, Rudy returned home by ship in 1946 to his Sophie and baby son Wayne, who was born in August of ’43 while Rudy was in New Guinea. In ’48 his daughter Joyce was born. <BR><BR>Rudy became an electrician and lived in Chicago for 49 years. He and Sophie moved to Ely about six years ago to be near his daughter and son-in-law Joyce and Stan Passananti. Son Wayne is an electrician living Illinois, following in his father’s footsteps. <BR><BR>Life is quieter and calmer these day at the nursing home. “The Lord has been wonderful to me all the way through and people have been praying for me to be as healthy as I am for which I am grateful.”