Rita Kubek grew up during the depression in Buffalo, NY. She was extremely intelligent, graduating 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 her sons, Jim, and his older brother. Once the boys were older, Rita returned to the workforce on a part-time basis at a local bakery. Later, she served as the church secretary and business manager for her local parish for nearly twenty years. Rita was gifted, resourceful and wonderfully funny. Her quick intellect made her a whiz at Scrabble, Pinochle and crossword puzzles.
About five years into her retirement, Rita noticed her husband, 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 became Rudy’s primary caregiver as he gradually deteriorated due to dementia and died 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, and a reluctance to socialize and engage with others. Due to her high intelligence, Rita was able to compensate for these changes, making a diagnosis very tricky. She reluctantly agreed to testing in 2012, and sadly she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Rita spent the last year of her life in a memory care facility in Madison, not far from her son Jim and his wife, Jill. Though she had several cognitive deficits, she continued to play a good game of Pinochle, often winning!
Rita was enrolled in the Wisconsin Brain Donor Program, so an autopsy was performed hours after her death in 2014. Because of her relatively high function at the time of her death, the family was surprised when the autopsy revealed all three markers of Alzheimer’s disease were present in Rita’s brain at the highest levels.
At an Alzheimer’s event in 2017, Jim and Jill heard Dr. Sterling Johnson share his desire to perform more PET scans on study participants. PET scans reveal major hallmarks of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Learning the high cost of PET scans, and understanding how meaningful scans can be in diagnosing disease, they felt motivated to support this endeavor with a $40,000 match gift, to inspire others to give. They felt this gift would support the charitable gift fund they created from the estate of Jill’s parents. The fund is the Kubek/Peterson Charitable Gift Fund.
To take advantage of this generous gift match and support this important work, give to the UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s Research Fund. In the comment field, make a tribute saying your gift is in honor of the Kubek Match to fund PET scans. Together, we can make a difference!