The Legacy of Tom Glodek
Those who have, have to give.” These are the words of Tom Glodek, the only living founder of Catholic Eldercare. They are also at the core of a value system that is rooted in the neighborhoods of Northeast and the immigrant parents who instilled them. “Our presence in life was based on helping other people,” he says. “We saw people in need, and we helped them. It’s part of our DNA.”
Tom’s heart for giving was nurtured within his Holy Cross parish and grade school, and DeLaSalle High School. From there, he attended the University of St. Thomas and went on to the University of Minnesota, earning a degree in mortuary science. “My parents knew that education is the secret to success,” he says. “My dad was a milkman, and my mother was a housewife, and they put four kids through college. I had neighborhood friends who became doctors and lawyers because their parents also believed in the value of education. It was inspiring to see parents who were willing to sacrifice everything so their kids could go to college.”
“The hard-working, dedicated immigrant parents of Northeast came from multiple ethnic backgrounds, and they supported each other as neighbors,” Tom recalls. These people prompted Tom to say to his friend, Al Hofstede, newly elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1972, “Albert, we’ve got to build a nursing home for our neighbors in Northeast.” This was the beginning of Catholic Eldercare, a place where Tom and Al’s elderly neighbors would receive affordable care with dignity.
At the time the preparations for CEC began, Tom was already serving neighborhood families as the owner of Kapala Glodek Funeral Service and was witnessing the opposite of care with dignity. “I entered a local nursing home and saw twenty people sharing one bathroom, and some people had beds in the hallway,” Tom explained. “This was not acceptable, and it had to change.”
Catholic Eldercare would become a place where tenants and residents have privacy, with their choice of a single or double room with a bathroom in the Albert J. Hofstede Care Center. “This is what people deserve, and I’m so happy we could make it happen.”
Tom has cared for families in Northeast since he was 14 years old, cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming carpet at the Joseph Kapala funeral home, where he worked through college. The hard work paid off, leading Tom to partner with Kapala in the business and add his name to it. Together, they formed Kadek Enterprises, a real estate company that owned the funeral homes and the land beneath them, along with properties in Florida. Through it all, Tom continued to do the chores that led to his success. “When people asked my daughter what her father did, she would say, ‘He’s a funeral director and he vacuums carpet.’ Some things never change.”
Tom and his wife, Sandra, have four children and seven grandchildren between them. “I have always told my kids, ‘If you have money, you can share it and help someone else,’ and they are committed to doing it,” Tom says proudly.
Catholic Eldercare is celebrating 40 years because Tom and the friends he met at St. Anthony of Padua Church came together, pooled their resources, and followed their hearts for the good of their neighbors. Rooted in values and a mission to care for elderly friends with dignity, Tom Glodek, Al Hofstede, and Bob Hannah joined with Sister Ruth Roland to move forward in faith and build a legacy in Northeast. “I miss them,” Tom says with sadness in his voice. “They didn’t get to see what it’s become, but somehow, I hope they know their efforts were worthwhile.”
Tom is also quick to acknowledge the work of Chuck Sullivan, Dr. Eugene Ott, and Carolyn Olson. “These original Board members played an integral role in the early success of CEC.”
When asked about the legacy he will leave behind, Tom simply said, “We were just happy to help people at a very difficult time in their lives. And we are hopeful that CEC will continue to move our legacy forward as a leader in Catholic senior care in Minneapolis.”