Franklin Karpowicz, 66, St. Elizabeth's resident

August 27, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Franklin "Frankie" Karpowicz, who was afflicted with cerebral palsy and lived at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for 46 years, died of pneumonia Monday at St. Agnes Health Care. He was 66.

Mr. Karpowicz, the son of Adam and Veronica Karpowski of Baltimore, became a ward of the Daughters of Charity, a religious order of women, after his last surviving parent died in 1953. Crippled from the disease, he spent his life in a wheelchair.

"He was always smiling, always a happy person," said Helen Blick, who worked at St. Elizabeth where Mr. Karpowicz was the official greeter. "He couldn't talk well, but once you got to know him, you knew his language. He was very bright and smart, the type of person that once you met him, you just loved him."

About 150 people attended his funeral services Wednesday in the chapel at St. Elizabeth's in the 3300 block of Benson Ave. in Southwest Baltimore, said Kristen Combs, director of social services at the center.

At St. Elizabeth's, formerly known as Jenkins Memorial Home, Mr. Karpowicz delivered mail to residents and helped with picnics and parties, Mrs. Combs said. He was fond of chocolate cupcakes and baseball and routinely moved around the center with music playing on a small portable radio he had attached to his wheelchair.

Having attended only elementary school as a child, he taught himself to read and eventually to play bingo.

"He was happy, just happy-go-lucky," said Juanita Norwood, a receptionist at St. Elizabeth's who had known him since 1963. "Everyone loved him, and I think we all spoiled him. He had no immediate family, the sisters really took care of him. They just took him under their wing."

Mrs. Combs said that Mr. Karpowicz's personality evolved over the years. Notes on his admission sheet in 1953 described him as an orphan who had cerebral palsy and "the mental state of a child," an angry and bedridden "imbecile" with behavioral problems.

But as he became settled, Mr. Karpowicz blossomed. He became one of the most popular residents at the facility where 162 live.

"He was very outgoing and really enjoyed being around other people and being needed by other people," Mrs. Combs said.

In 1992, Mr. Karpowicz was one of the first to move into the new St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center after it was renovated.

He attended Mass daily in the center's chapel, Mrs. Combs said.

Mr. Karpowicz was buried with his parents at St. Stanislaus Cemetery on Boston Street.

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