Rita Kubek grew up during the depression in Buffalo, NY. She was extremely intelligent, which enabled her to graduate high school at the early age of 16. Soon after graduation, Rita began working for Gould Battery in Buffalo and New Jersey during World War II. She became a traveling businesswoman long before it was commonplace.
In 1951, Rita married Rudy Kubek and, like most women of her era, stayed home to raise Jim and his older brother. Once the boys were in high school, Rita returned to the workforce on a part-time basis at a local bakery. Later she served as the church secretary/business manager for her local parish for nearly twenty years before retiring in 1995. Rita was gifted, resourceful and enjoyed a wonderful sense of humor during this time. Her intellect proved her a whiz at Scrabble, Pinochle, and crossword puzzles.
About five years into her retirement, Rita noticed that Rudy had experienced a loss of short-term memory. Eventually, he was unable to accomplish tasks he’d performed with ease his entire life, including handling the financial affairs of the home. Rita stepped into this role and became Rudy’s primary caregiver as he gradually deteriorated due to dementia until his passing in 2006.
A year after Rudy’s death, Jim, along with other family members and friends, noticed a decline in Rita’s short-term memory as well as her ability to socialize and engage with others. Due to her astuteness, Rita was able to compensate, making diagnosis very tricky. She reluctantly agreed to testing in 2012, and it was at that time when Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) was formally diagnosed. Rita spent the last year of her life in a memory care facility in Madison, not far from Jim and his wife, Jill. Though she had several cognitive deficits, she continued to play a mean game of Pinochle and often prevailed!
Jim had enrolled his mom in UW’s Brain Donation Program, so an autopsy was performed hours after her death in 2014. Because of her relatively high function, the family was a bit surprised to learn that all three markers for AD were present at the highest levels in her brain.
Realizing that imaging during lifetime can now identify these markers, Jim and Jill are determined to advance research to find a cure for this horrible disease. Their gifts will honor Rita as well as Rudy, along with Jill’s late parents, Bob and Marian Peterson. Please join them in advancing a cure through discovery, care, and service with your support of the UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can make a difference!