Talking with DuPage Care Center resident Rudolph Valentine Kraus (though his baptism certificate says Valentino), you start to know the man who served our country in the Air Force and his career in the advancement of technology. A father of two and Papa to two grandchildren, he proudly displays their pictures in his room, which he shares with his wife Theresa, fondly known as Terry.
His parents were born in Hungary and migrated to the United States in 1923. Born in the Bronx to his mother, who hardly read, and his father, an iron worker who could read in 3-4 languages. As a child he grew up in New Jersey and New York with three brothers and one sister which meant there was always a playmate and a busy home.
He met his wife, Teresa Boehm, at a dance hall in Manhattan. His buddy, from the Air Force, was able to get her phone number and he called her for a date the next day. Little did he know that the Staten Island ritual was to call twice; once to ask for the date and once to confirm. He showed up for the date unexpected as he never made the second call, but everything clicked because they’ve been married 53 years.
Graduating from high school in 1957, he decided his next step was to enroll in the Air Force. He served 7 years and 8 months working in the electronics field, aircraft control and ground radar. Kraus explains that he always worked on the transmitters in B-52 planes because no one else could lift the 150 pounds. The biggest change he experienced was the airplane technical equipment kept getting smaller with the advancement of technology.
Leaving the Air Force, he moved to Brooklyn and began working at Bell Labs as a Senior Technical Aid. While there, he started his advanced electronic studies at Monmouth University in New Jersey where he graduated. In 1975-76 Bell Labs announced they were moving their offices to Naperville. He went home to tell Teresa that his company wanted him to move to Illinois and ask her thoughts. Her response “Well, are you going to take me?”
They lived in Villa Park and Lombard where they raised their family. He had the opportunity to leave Bell Labs to work for ITT Technical Institute as an Electronics Instructor. Over the years, his career experienced explosive changes in the field of computer and telephone technology, and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with his students.
Rudy and Teresa moved to the DuPage Care Center in 2017. He enjoys his Center friends and the “really good” food. He can’t wait for isolation limitations to open so he can spend time in the outdoor garden area with Teresa, who is a member of the Garden Club.
Today he enjoys playing games, such as Scrabble and Cribbage and the painting classes with art instructor, Emily. Hanging on the wall, above his bed, is a painting of a colorful sunset through a patch of trees. One can almost feel the intensity of the sun’s summer heat. He is very proud of his artistic talent but doesn’t know if he will paint such a big canvas again. His musical tastes lean toward classical music which he enjoys on some of the cable TV channels, and he has an extensive collection of police action TV shows such as NCIS, Magnum PI, and Blue Bloods.
Being a part of the DPCC Veteran’s group, he has served as the group Commander, which offered him the opportunity to meet other Center veterans. They share fellowship and stories of their military days. He looks forward to reconnecting with them once the COVID isolation guidelines are lifted.
Currently the Care Center is not open to visitors. For Rudy this meant that for Father’s Day he will video chatted with his daughter Patricia, grandchildren from Lombard, and his son who lives on the east coast. A bit different for him, but you have to wonder how his past electronic experience assisted in developing this type of communication.
When asked how he would describe himself he said he is a lot like his Mother, a “flibbertigibbet.” The term means excessively talkative (though he confesses he’s not much of one today) that he picked up from the movie Joe and the Volcano, with Tom Hanks (his favorite actor) and Meg Ryan. Maybe one day if a movie is made about his life Hanks can play the character Rudolph Valentine Kraus.
Mr. Kraus passed away a few days prior to the release of this Resident Spotlight story with his daughter, Tricia, by his side. The DuPage Care Center was honored to be able to care for him and in his sharing of this story.