Madonna Ruth Kutcher, age 92, passed away April 12, 2017, in Massillon, OH. She was born on
April 18th, 1924, on her mother’s birthday, in Derwent, Ohio, to the late Bryant Franklin Pritchard, and Nora (Friley)
Pritchard Clark Lowry.
Reared in Pleasant City, Ohio until the age of 13 when the family moved to Canton, Ohio, where
she married her husband of 67 years, Paul Kutcher, and resided there 71 years, raising her only child, Dr. Gary Kutcher.
Retired from the Canal Fulton Dinner Theatre as buffet manager.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded
in death by her husband; an infant brother; sisters, Audrey Ramey, Maxine Clugston, and Majel Rollins, and her son, Gary Kutcher.
Surviving is Gary’s wife, Maria; one granddaughter, Heidi Kutcher, of Silver Spring, MD; step brother, James Lowry and
family; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Madonna was a member of Zion United Church in North Canton, Daughters of the
American Revolution, Molly Stark Chapter of the American Colonists. She also was among the first six families to start The
First Friends Church, where she taught Sunday School for seventeen years. She has more recently been a member of Open Door
Her favorite scripture was Joshua 24:15: “Choose you this day, whom you will serve;
but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Services to be conducted
at 1:00pm on Wednesday in the Karlo-Libby Funeral Home at 5000 Everhard Rd in Canton, by Pastor Bob Butterfield. Interment
in West Lawn Cemetery. Friends may call from 12pm-1pm Wednesday, one hour before services at the funeral home. In lieu of
flowers, donations may be given to her church, or to the Salvation Army.
an article for the Ohio Polio Network about her life with Polio. It appeared in "The Polio Post" Fall 2015 newsletter.
It appears below:
The following story is a Health Issues Essay that Madonna Kutcher, 91
years old, member of both the Canton Post-Polio Support Group and the DAR, wrote and submitted in a contest by the Daughters
of the American Revolution. She won 2nd prize for the State of Ohio .
I am a Polio Survivor
By: Madonna Ruth
I was born on April 18, 1924 in Pleasant City Ohio, the 4th daughter of Frank and Nora
Pritchard. I was also born on my mother’s 32nd birthday, making that day a big celebration every year. I was born a
healthy child. We were a happy family. My father was so excited when he paid the doctor in ten silver dollars, he dropped
them. They rolled under the bed, it being a home delivery.
Welcoming me were three
other sisters: Majel, aged 6, Maxine, aged 8, and Audrey, 10 years old. Audrey made the diapers for the new baby by hand.
Majel was not happy to have a new baby around. She had been the baby for 6 years, and when I was born, she wanted to put that
“peeled onion” out in the road for the cars to run over.
The entire family was
traumatized when I contracted infantile paralysis, or polio, as it is now called. I was eighteen months old, and paralyzed
on my right side. My mother kept a vigil by my bedside for 6 weeks as the disease took its toll on my small body, leaving
me unable to walk. My father would run for Dr. Wallenfeltz in Pleasant City, a good mile or more, and ride back in his buggy.
Nothing could stop the agony, and it went on for 2 years.
There were no known medicines
at that time, but thanks to the Salk and Sabine vaccines developed in the 1950’s, polio is no longer the deadly scourge
that loomed like a menacing cloud over every child’s summertime. However, for the 300,000 Americans who contracted the
disease before the advent of the vaccines, polio has become a recurring nightmare, and I am one of those.
As I grew stronger
after my two years of agony, my sisters were determined to make me walk, that is, except Majel. Audrey and Maxine would make
a seat to carry me with their arms outstretched and crossed, as there were no wheelchairs available for me at that time. They
would stand me down, and try to make me walk, to no avail. They kept trying, and one day, I was able to stand.
My mother tells of the poison in
my body. It took the form of 2 abscesses, one under my chin, and one on the back of my neck, both very large. (I have the
scars today to remind me.) Old Doc Wallenfeltz lanced them in the office, and I was wearing a hand-crocheted dress made by
my grandmother. Mother tried to pick the dress up, but the doctor warned her to not touch it, as it was rank poison. She did
retrieve it in paper, took it home, and washed it. Today that dress is preserved behind glass with a picture of me wearing
it, thanks to my daughter-in-law, Maria Kutcher. When she saw it she wanted to have it framed, and surprised me with this
beautiful framed picture that is hanging in my home now. It shows the miracle of me standing. We believe it was prayer that
brought me through to be standing in that picture.
There were only three cases of polio in our small town of 1000 people. One
was a boy my age, who always walked with a limp, and a teen-aged girl, Flora Fluhart, who spent her entire life in a wheelchair.
Fortunately none of my sisters contracted the disease.
I recovered, but as never able to run without falling. However, I was able to attend school, and
from all appearances made a good recovery. I married and had one son, but because of the polio was never able to carry more
children. The years went by, and I never thought of my past illness except when I saw my childhood picture with the caption,
“Madonna after Long Illness.” Having grown up in a loving home, I credit this and my deep faith for being able
to lead a normal life.
1982, I was forced to quit work in restaurant management, as I began to have trouble walking, suffering severe pain in my
limbs. I thought I had been working too hard, and long hours had taken a toll. Or so I thought. All I needed was rest.
After consulting numerous doctors,
who had never seen polio, I was getting nowhere. They were baffled. Pain and fatigue were my constant companions. Even simple
household chores were more difficult. I sought every treatment for relief: acupuncture, selected nerve root injections, and
warm springs mineral baths among them. Our former President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had gone to Warm Springs, Georgia, for
treatment. I took the warm baths as well, and they soothed, but did nothing long term. We traveled a lot, and at Hyde Park,
N. Y., I rode in the same elevator he had used. Every chance I had to use the mineral baths, I did. Hot Springs, South Dakota,
Arizona, Arkansas, and some hotels had them.
In 1982, my primary doctor suggested I go to the Cleveland Clinic for an evaluation, and I was ready for anything
to ease the pain. At my second appointment, an Indian doctor was called in. When I stood down, he examined my hips, and called
the other doctors. “This is polio”, he said, as a lump on my hip told him the story. I asked him how he found
it when no one else knew. He said he had seen lots of polio in India. This was now called “post-polio syndrome.”
Now I came home to research the
disease that I thought I had conquered. I knew I needed back surgery, but was hesitant, afraid that a slip-up could again
leave me paralyzed. I relied on my orthopedic doctor, Dr. Knell, until he retired, and I was in limbo to find a doctor as
capable as he. I heard of one in Pittsburgh, PA. at the University hospital who had a new method for back surgery. After consulting
with my primary doctor, he thought it an excellent idea to check into it. Nobody wants to operate, so I went to Pittsburgh
thinking they wouldn’t want to either.
When I saw Dr. Abla, he asked me to stand down and walk and said he would operate immediately. I was relieved
and went home to make arrangements. The surgery was a success but it took a while to get my strength back. Dr. Abla’s
report was a decompressive laminectomy, and he reconstructed the lumbar spine with pedicule screws. In his report, he stated
it was a very difficult procedure.
Transferred to a hospital, I spent three weeks in therapy. The pain in my back
was relieved some, but I still needed electric therapy and acupuncture. My feet were left numb due to nerve damage. Soon after
that time I had both knees replaced, and while I was in the hospital, was told I had kidney cancer. I took that as being God’s
plan for my life, and prayed for strength to get through. Three months after the knee surgery, another surgery was done to
remove part of my kidney. It had not spread and I did not have to have chemo, but I had to stop therapy for my knees. The
doctor said I was tearing up my whole body. You would think I would be discouraged, but I had come through every illness,
and I knew my faith was strong and able to withstand. My son and his wife had built an apartment on their new house for us,
and we decided it was time to move to Texas, so I would have my family to help support me.
It was not easy to leave my home after living there 28 of the
67 years we were married, but I prayed for strength to get me through. All went well in Texas until Paul became abusive to
me, and we had to put him in a confined environment. He didn’t do well without me, so I had to make another move to
an assisted living apartment in the same building. This worked out well for him, but I missed my kitchen!
I have made the adjustment, and
have made many new friends, as well as attending church and the D.A.R. I belong and to a Post-Polio group here as well. I
am President of the Residents’ Council, and it keeps me busy dealing with the issues the residents have. I feel God
has placed me here to be their voice, and help Paul at the same time.
Moving meant changing doctors, and I have several. Once a month I get cortisone
shots in my hips and shoulders. This helps the pain, but going to the dining room three times a day is still very painful,
even with a walker. I also have fibromyalgia, and a problem with my blood. It was diagnosed as having too much protein in
my blood, and the oncologist checks it every three months. I also have a rheumatologist that prescribes soma, vicodin and
elavil to relax the muscles. My record says I am addicted to soma, but I need it to cope with my husband’s illness and
my own anxieties.
to spend 2 hours a day with Paul. We take him out to dinner once a week with my son and his wife, and eat dinner at their
house on Sundays. He still knows me; I’m thankful for that. I start every day with meditations, and end with prayer.
I see so many people worse off than I am, and have no cause to complain. As I look back on my life, God has been so good to
me. People ask me for advice and marriage since mine has lasted so long, and the only secret I have is that we kept God at
the head of our household.
doctor from the Mayo Clinic who survived polio was supposed to hold a seminar for our polio group, and he had to cancel because
of going back to his wheelchair. This is typical of polio survivors who are now experiencing Post-Polio Syndrome. The first
meeting I attended had 88 people there, and they were fitting for braces, crutches and wheelchairs. So you see why I am content
with my lot in life. I have learned to say with the Apostle Paul, “In whatsoever state I am in, to be content.”
My husband Paul, was diagnosed
in 2003 with Alzheimer’s. This progressed, and made it necessary to move to San Antonio in 2008, to live with my son
and his wife, and get help.