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Epilogue | Bill Rosenblatt

Bill Rosenblatt cared for others before Alzheimer's made others care for him

PALM HARBOR — On Tuesday, Bill Rosenblatt's children dropped what they were doing and headed for a nursing home.

More than a decade after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it seemed that Mr. Rosenblatt's health was slipping. As the children arrived, it occurred to Irene Lipensky that her premonition had almost come true. Lipensky had wondered if her father might die on Father's Day.

It was like him to wait until the time was right. His wife Arline had died three months earlier.

He had been a patient at Manor Care Health Services for six years. But for a miraculous — and fleeting — awakening four years ago, he had been unable to speak for most of that time.

Through the rest of his adult life, Mr. Rosenblatt had taken care of others. He had reordered his life to care for his son, who had sustained a disability.

Bill Rosenblatt grew up in Brooklyn and married his high school girlfriend, Arline Kern. He served in the Navy and the Marines. They settled on Long Island, where Mr. Rosenblatt sold everything from couches to Chevrolets and drove a volunteer ambulance. He also worked as an interior decorator.

He was on ambulance duty the night he got an emergency call to his own house. Alan, his 11-year-old son, was having seizures caused by encephalitis. He emerged from a hospital stay with partial paralysis.

The family moved to Palm Harbor in 1983. Mr. Rosenblatt sold cars and volunteered at the Kent Jewish Community Center, where his wife taught preschool.

"He had these twinkly blue eyes and made you feel like the most important person," said Margie Weiss, a longtime friend. "Like a Jewish kind of Santa Claus figure."

Early Alzheimer's disease cut his plans short. His wife cared for him at home until 2005. Family and nursing home attendants guessed at his moods through facial expressions and gestures.

The fog lifted for a few hours one night in 2007, when Mr. Rosenblatt inexplicably returned to full consciousness. "He spoke in perfect sentences, and they were appropriate sentences," his daughter said.

The next morning, his dementia had returned for good.

Lipensky and her brothers, Alan and Elliot Rosenblatt, stood by his bedside Tuesday as his condition faded. Each of seven grandchildren talked to Mr. Rosenblatt on speakerphone.

Then Susan Satinoff, his other daughter, arrived. Mr. Rosenblatt took a final breath and exhaled. He was 76.

"I'm so thankful we were all there," Lipensky said. "My biggest fear was that he would die alone."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

William "Bill" Rosenblatt

Born: Jan. 29, 1935.

Died: June 14, 2011.

Survivors: Daughters Susan Satinoff and Irene Lipensky; sons Alan and Elliot Rosenblatt; brother Stanley Rosenblatt; and seven grandchildren.

Bill Rosenblatt cared for others before Alzheimer's made others care for him 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 9:12pm]
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