Hickory Hills Physician Celebrates As Two Patients Turn 100

It’s not every day you meet a centenarian, but Loyola University Health System primary care physician Dr. Josephine Dlugopolski-Gach has helped two astonishing Chicago-area community members celebrate 100 years of life.

“It’s such a privilege to care for all my patients and so exciting to be a part of celebrating 100 years of life of two amazing people,” said Dlugopolski.

Born the son of a coal miner in Chicago, Anthony Rudis turned 100 on January 14. Though he made an impact around the world, Rudis always lived close to the city he loved.

“I’ve always felt that the world is my oyster and that life is precious and priceless,” said Rudis. “But you have to realize what is really important and make priorities.”

Rudis did just that. Rudis was the founder of a steel fabrication business that supplied resources for the nuclear power industry, as well as locks, dams and the US Department of Defense. He was the president of the Lithuanian American Council, International Trade Club of Chicago, director of Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, director of National Strategy Forum and even ran for US Congress in 1958.

Even with all these accomplishments he never lost sight of what was important to him: his Catholic faith; his family, which includes four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; but most all his beloved wife, Mary, who passed away after 68 years of marriage.

“She was everything to me. She was the sweetest girl in the world and so intelligent. I am who I am because of her,” said Rudis.

“Mr. Rudis has lived an amazing life and I smile when I know he is coming for a visit. He has the best sense of humor and never dwells on the problems. He’s always looking for the positives,” said Dlugopolski.

“Dr. Dlugopolski has given me such a pleasant, positive attitude toward the medical industry. When you turn 100 not many people want to listen to your stories, but she always listens. She’s someone I know I can talk to and someone who truly cares,” said Rudis.

Mr. Rudis lives in Monee, Ill., with his son Tony Rudis, Jr.

Though born half a world away Agnes Komperda, who will turn 100 on May 18, also has a strong Catholic faith and has lived a life to be emulated.

“You can see the impact she has had when you meet her family. They are so caring and loving and you know that started with Agnes,” said Dlugopolski.

Born into a farming community in southern Poland, Agnes continued the tradition by marrying a farmer. They had six children, one who passed away as an infant. During World War II Agnes’ husband and two older children were sent to the United States because of her husband’s American roots.

“For seven years we were separated,” said Sandra Zarembski, Agnes’ oldest daughter. “Mom never let it get the best of her. My mom was always the strong one, always busy and always caring.”

Through all the pain and strife Agnes continued to focus on the good in her life. To earn money she became a seamstress in the local village and made sure the family stayed close by writing letters to one another. The Komperda family was reunited in 1948.

“Mom is always looking out for others. She asked God to let her live a long life so she could take care of her bachelor son. I guess he answered that prayer,” said Zarembski.

Agnes loves going to church, singing and being outdoors. She continued to garden until she was 96 years old and now enjoys watching the birds.

“Dlugopolski is such a wonderful doctor. She is encouraging to all of us as we care for our mother. She never gives up and we know we can trust her to give our Mom the best care,” said Zarembski.

“I wish everyone had a family like Agnes, they are so concerned about her and make her a priority. Agnes is such a warm person and almost always has a smile on her face,” said Dlugolpolski.
Agnes lives with her son, Stanley, in Chicago. She has nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

“It is such a joy to care for these patients. They have so much to teach me and I thank them for letting me be a part of their lives,” said Dlugolpolski.

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