Bon Secours facility is fit for this king

June 22, 1994|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Special to the Sun

It was a landslide victory in August 1991 for Ed Bruckner, 85, beginning his reign as "King-For-A-Year" at the Bon Secours Extended Care Facility in Ellicott City. Today, his popularity persists, as he serves his third consecutive year as king.

"I make things happen," proclaimed Mr. Bruckner, a bachelor with a twinkle in his eye.

Wearing his crown to all "official" functions, such as bingo games, birthday parties, bowling and volleyball, the king relishes his ceremonial position, which gives him a chance to help out the staff, greet visitors and encourage social interaction among residents.

"They want to know who I am," said Mr. Bruckner, referring to new residents and visitors who attend the events.

The idea for a royal election came in 1990 when Maria Anuszewski, director of activities, was looking through a trade magazine for recreational ideas.

"The purpose is to activate the residents," said Mrs. Anuszewski. "I tried the idea; all of the residents got involved, and it took off from there."

Since then, every August, about 100 residents at Bon Secours cast their votes for the man and woman they believe to be worthy of the papier-mache crown.

The annual event includes a few tense moments as residents await the results of their vote, and a crowning ceremony and victory celebration for the king and queen, with music and snacks follows.

Although the 1993 queen recently relinquished her crown, having been discharged from the facility into a group home, Mr. Bruckner has carried on with his official duties alone.

"Mr. Bruckner helps transport patients back and forth," said Chris Strahler, activities assistant. "He attends most of the activities and is very helpful to the staff."

Mrs. Anuszewski agreed.

"He motivates other residents to come out to special events and will even escort the ladies to the activities," she said. "He welcomes volunteer groups into the facility and participates in a story time program that involves seniors and pre-schoolers. All the children look up to him."

In addition, Mr. Bruckner, a former office clerk, assists during bingo and is "fantastic with numbers," Mrs. Anuszewski said. His skill comes in handy when he totals the scores -- and alerts Mrs. Anuszewski when she makes a mistake in calling out the numbers.

Clara Wunder, a resident of the facility since November, is well acquainted with Mr. Bruckner's sparkling personality.

"You can always hear him laugh," said Mrs. Wunder. "He's always teasing the women."

With another royal election coming up in August, Mr. Bruckner lobbies for votes at bingo games, one of the most heavily attended activities.

"He does his own sort of personal campaigning," said Mrs. Anuszewski. "Everyone teases him that he is not going to be re-elected. . . . Mr. Bruckner will say, 'You had better re-elect me.'"

Asked what the advantages are to winning, Mr. Bruckner replied, "When you're popular, people don't holler at you."

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