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updated: 12/27/2013 7:51 AM

Northwest suburban pediatrician remembered as pioneer

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  • Dr. Marianne B. Budzeika

    Dr. Marianne B. Budzeika

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

One of the founding medical staff from Northwest Community Hospital and one of its first female pediatricians, has died.

Dr. Marianne B. Budzeika passed away on Tuesday. The longtime Arlington Heights resident and Mount Prospect practitioner was 87.

Her name is engraved in marble at the hospital along with the 50 other physicians -- and only two other women -- who served the medical center for its first 25 years, from 1959-1984.

Budzeika was born in Beutchen, Germany, and was only 13 when World War II broke out. She and her family fled their home as the Russians advanced, and later survived the occupation of Germany by eating Allied rations.

While their years as refugees stayed with Budzeika, losing her youngest brother to scarlet fever, made a lasting impact.

"He was everyone's little darling," says Budzeika's only daughter, Karen Slora of Palatine. "When he died, my mother vowed to become a 'baby doctor,' and she did. She was the most determined and persistent women you'd ever meet."

Budzeika attended medical school in Germany, where she was one of only three women in her graduating class. When she emigrated to the United States, she did her residency in Peoria. But since many of her medical records were in German, it was only the chief resident, Vytautas V. Budzeika who could translate them.

Within months they married, and one year later they welcomed their daughter. The family moved to Chicago to complete further training, and by 1959, they moved to Arlington Heights.

According to her daughter, Budzeika took great pride in being among the founding staff of Northwest Community when it opened on Dec. 2, 1959. She established her private practice in Mount Prospect and it grew along with the Northwest suburbs.

"I remember going on house calls with her in the early years," Slora says. "It was usually at night, and she'd have her doctor's bag and a flashlight to find the right house."

Dr. Pola Piotrowski, another founding staff member in pediatrics, remembers that their staff was busy as the numbers of infants born at the hospital quickly jumped to nearly 250 per month.

In the 50th anniversary book about the hospital's history, Piotrowski recalled Northwest Community pediatricians volunteering to give oral polio vaccine on a sugar cube at the Randhurst Shopping Center as well as going to out into the community to perform physicals, including for youngsters at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and at Little City in Palatine.

Dr. Usha Murarka, remembers joining Northwest Community's pediatrics staff and looking up to Budzeika as a mentor.

"She was very helpful and encouraging," Murarka says, "and as a physician, she was very confident. Her clinical experience was excellent."

Budzeika suffered a stroke in 1985, but she continued practicing until her retirement in 1992.

Besides her daughter, Budzeika is survived by granddaughters Andrea and Kirsten Slora of Palatine. Her husband died in 1974.

Visitation will take place from 4-8 p.m. today at Meadows Funeral Home, 3615 Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows, before a 9:30 a.m. funeral Mass on Saturday at Our Lady of the Wayside Church, 434 W. Park St. in Arlington Heights.

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