Dr. Henry Poterucha (93) of Effingham


Published on May 13 2019 8:21 am

Surrounded by his family, Dr. Henry James Poterucha, age 93, died Friday, May 10, 2019 at Mayo Clinic Charter House in Rochester, MN. 

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 AM Saturday, May 18 at St. Anthony Church in Effingham, Illinois. Visitation/Rosary will be from 4 to 8 PM Friday at St. Anthony Church and one hour prior to the Funeral Mass on Saturday. Burial will be in St. Anthony Cemetery with military rites. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Anthony Schools, Effingham, IL 62401 or online at their website. 

Dr. Poterucha was born February 7, 1926 in Chicago, IL, the first child of Polish immigrants, Konstantin and Honorata (Zych) Poterucha. Coming from humble means, Henry never knew his family was poor as his father, a window washer, and mother, a homemaker, both worked hard to give their children all they needed. He attended St. Helen’s Grade School where he learned to speak English after growing up only speaking Polish. While in high school at Holy Trinity, he met Esther Gdowski who stole his heart. They married at Chicago’s St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church on December 27, 1947 after which Esther sold shoes at Marshall Field’s while Henry completed his MD degree at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. He served two stints in the military, one in the Army Air Corps during World War II where he trained as a B-17 navigator, the second in the Army during the Korean Conflict. After completing his military service in Texas as a medical officer, he moved his young family to join the Effingham Clinic in 1954, the same year the new hospital opened. He started his own practice in 1956 and retired 44 years later at the age of 74. 

Dr. Poterucha served the Effingham community through many generations. He rounded daily at the hospital, saw patients in the office, delivered babies, conducted house calls and served on-call in the emergency room. On a normal day, he would see around 40 patients in the office supported by an office staff who became like family. Upon retirement, he was celebrated as having delivered 3,925 babies. 

Dr. Poterucha was a long standing member of St. Anthony Catholic Church and the Effingham Knights of Columbus Council 665. Particular civic interests including supporting the Family Life Center, the Effingham Cross Foundation, Effingham Courthouse renovation and museum as well as Catholic education. Other activities Henry loved were Marriage Encounters, Cursillo weekends, St. Anthony Men’s Prayer Group meetings and yearly Manresa retreats. 

Henry found the most joy spending time with family and friends including his 12 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren who adored their “Gramps”. 

He is survived by his children, Kathy (Hank) Bonutti of Bloomfield Hills, MI, Thomas (Terri) Poterucha of Rochester, MN, John (Bonnie) Poterucha of Rochester, MN, and Jeannie (Bill) Poterucha Carter of Rochester, MN along with sister Virginia Rodriquez and nephew, David Rodriguez.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his dear wife, Esther, and his son, Michael.

We wish to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and visits during Henry’s final days. We are also grateful to all the staff of the Mayo Clinic and Charter House who cared for him so lovingly.

He will be missed.