World War II Veteran Honored for Service by Hospice of the Western Reserve
Wife of 69 Years is a Survivor of Auschwitz, Dachau and Bergen-Belsen
As a soldier in the U.S. Army serving in the European theater, PFC Robert (Bob) Roth participated in one of the defining historical events of the 20th century: World War II. After the war, he served as a guard at the Nuremberg trials, a series of military tribunals convened by the Allied forces to prosecute Nazi war criminals.
Bob didn’t know it then, but he would one day marry Katherine (Kati) a survivor of three concentration camps: Auschwitz, Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. The two would meet back in the States. Bob and Kati met while he attended Detroit Institute of Technology, where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering. They have been married 69 years.
Hospice of the Western Reserve honored Bob for his service recently at a private family Veterans Recognition Ceremony held at the Skilled Nursing Center at Normandy Senior Living in Rocky River. The ceremony is part of the nonprofit hospice agency’s Peaceful & Proud program which focuses on the specialized needs of veterans.
Volunteer veteran Wayne Pettek opened the ceremony with the Call to the Colors, the traditional bugle call used in military ceremonies to render honor to the nation. Wayne thanked and honored the World War II veteran for his service as he pinned a special commemorative veterans’ pin to his clothing. Following the ceremony, Hospice of the Western Reserve staff, volunteers, family members and friends filed past one by one to honor and greet Bob.
Approximately 20 family members and friends attended, with several driving in from Detroit for the ceremony. Bob’s wife, Kati, was joyful and appreciative.
"When they told me they were going to have this special day for Bob, I just couldn't believe it,” she said. “So wonderful."
The Normandy went all out to make the event extra special for the family, decorating the library in a patriotic theme, and providing red, white and blue balloons to accompany a cake provided by Hospice of the Western Reserve.
Wayne Pettek, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a retired Psychology and American History teacher at Harding Middle School and Lakewood High School, has been a Hospice of the Western Reserve volunteer since 2007. His passion is developing meaningful recognition ceremonies geared to the specialized needs of the veterans of each war and era. He has honored and “pinned” 138 veterans in private ceremonies for the nonprofit hospice.
U.S. Air Force veteran and Hospice of the Western Reserve volunteer Wayne Pettek speaks with Bob Roth following a ceremony honoring the World War II veteran for his service.
“It was my honor and privilege to recognize Mr. Roth for the contributions he made,” he said. “World War II veterans are my heroes.”