Sacred Heart’s adult day program helps out seniors

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2000

Diane Pitzen calls the history of the Sacred Heart Care Center’s adult day program a "treasure chest of memories.

Monday, September 25, 2000

Diane Pitzen calls the history of the Sacred Heart Care Center’s adult day program a "treasure chest of memories."

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John Rosemark has more than a few.

When Pitzen and her staff held their 17th anniversary party last Wednesday, Rosemark was among the celebrities.

The clients participating in the program were treated royally by Pitzen and her staff. There was dinner, entertainment and fellowship.

The adult day program brings senior citizens out of the house and into the community. They visit Sacred Heart Care Center for activities and more, take field trips and generally extend their horizons as aging takes over.

A van collects the individuals at their homes, brings them to the care center in southwest Austin and takes them home again.

Judging by Rosemark, the program is working.

"I like the whirlpool bath I can get here," he said. "The hot water helps my system. I come once a week with the van. It’s just a very good program for seniors."

Rosemark suffers from a crippling form of arthritis. His huge hands are gnarled and disfigured and his spine also has been affected.

But, Rosemark, 83, has merely slowed down. He never stops and one of the reasons is his faith and a neighbor, Harriet Smith, who shares those convictions.

Rosemark was born in St. Cloud and today is the last surviving child of 10 in his family.

From 1941 to 1980, he operated a successful full-service insurance agency until his son, Kenneth, took it over and later, it merged with the giant C.O. Brown Insurance Co.

His wife Elizabeth died May 20, 1996, at the age of 83. The couple had four sons and two daughters. He moved to northwest Austin in August 1999 and soon afterward, that’s when Mrs. Smith, a neighbor, became a helping friend.

Both are members of St. Edward’s Catholic Church. Rosemark lives with a daughter and her husband, Mary Beth and Jerry Maxfield, and their two children, ages 10 and 13.

Mrs. Smith is a retired registered nurse, who worked for many years at Gerard of Minnesota.

How does Rosemark face aging?

"It’s just something that happens to you. It happens to everybody," he said. "People should quit thinking about themselves and do things for others. It will work things out.

"Also, people should pray a lot. God doesn’t need us. We need him."

Memories make Rosemark a wealthy man. The stories he tells of family life, serving in the Army infantry during World War II, working at defense plants, his children and grandchildren, operating a combination tavern, grocery store and dance hall and other topics that spill from his tongue effortlessly indicate a full life.

"To see my children and their families grow and to see them all establish themselves, that’s been my greatest pleasure," he said. "What I like about life is that I apparently have all the love and respect and family and friends a man could want.

"What we older people need to do now is set a good example for those to follow."