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He's Spent Decades in Elmhurst Sharing Smiles and Inspiring Others

But now Bobby Scheiding is in a nursing home, where he likely will spend the rest of his life, according to his friend.

Bobby Scheiding (Credit: Jenny Nagle)
Bobby Scheiding (Credit: Jenny Nagle)

Elmhurst resident Bobby Scheiding is never one to feel sorry for himself. Always quick with a smile and a friendly word for the many people he met around town, he never let his disabilities slow him down or keep him from living independently.

"Bobby has touched so many of us in so many ways," said his dear friend Andrea Zable, a life-long Elmhurst resident. The 44-year-old has known Bobby for decades. "I think we all have a story or two we can share about Bobby. He's like an Elmhurst legend."

According to an article written about him a year ago in the Elmhurst College Leader, Bobby contracted polio when he was 8 years old. The Leader wrote about Bobby because he was a favorite staffer among the college students for nearly 10 years, working first in the kitchen, then in the cafeteria at the school, keeping things neat and clean.

He never knew his birth mother and "bounced around" between foster homes growing up, Zable said. 

"He would drag his one leg when he walked," she said. 

And walk he did—all over Elmhurst—until about 15 years ago, when he began using a red scooter, she said. He proudly flew an American flag off the back.

"He would be-bop around on that. Everybody knew him," Zable said.

He always had a job, lived on his own and was an inspiration to all he touched, she said.

"For having such a sad, sad story, he just came through so strong and so positive," Zable said. "We all just grew to love him."

But one day not too long ago, Bobby, now in his mid-60s, just wasn't around anymore, she said. 

"I saw him in Walgreen's probably a year ago. I was getting prescriptions and so was he," she said. "I was talking to him and he was all excited to be getting a new apartment. Then I didn't see him for a while."

She began asking around town if anybody had seen Bobby.

"Then all of a sudden we hear, 'Oh, Bobby's in a nursing home,' " she said. They saw it on Facebook.

The physical challenges Bobby had throughout his life had compounded with age.

"He has numerous health issues that have become exacerbated to the point he can no longer live on his own," Zable said, so he was taken to Elm Brook Healthcare Centre in Elmhurst. 

She goes to visit him frequently; he has good days and bad days. Some days his soft voice is barely understandable because of medication, but "he's definitely not mentally checked out," she said. Most days, he lights up when visitors come to see him. 

On a recent visit, Zable brought him a milk shake.

"We had a good visit and he was up most of the afternoon," she said. "He is still the Bobby we have all come to know and love. We talked about York High School, Hamburger Heaven, the Elmhurst police, for whom he has so much respect."

And he was very appreciative of the milk shake, she said.

"To see his smile as I put the straw in his mouth melted my heart and made me cry."

Another of Bobby's friends from childhood, Jenny Nagle, brings her dog to visit. 

"He was kind of his old self that day," Zable said, "(But) he was kind of crying, saying, 'I want my normal life back.' Seeing him like that rips my heart out." 

Zable dreams of taking him out of Elm Brook and wheeling him back through the streets of downtown Elmhurst, where he spent so much of his life chatting with folks and spreading cheer.

"I would love to do that, But I don't think they'll let me," she said. "They have him as a hospice patient. That doesn't mean he's going to die soon, but I don't think he's ever going to come out of there."

She said she wants all who remember and love him to know where he is so they can visit. Zable said he is getting visitors, but it is still lonely there for him.

"If anyone can find some time in their day to please stop and see Bobby, you would really touch his life like he has touched so many of ours," she said. "He is just the sweetest soul. It would mean the world to him."

For folks from the "old neighborhood" who would like to pay Bobby a visit, Elm Brook is located at 127 W. Diversey Ave. in Elmhurst. For more information, call (630) 530-5225.

Did you run into Bobby in Elmhurst over the years? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Shirley Younger Ryan Linden September 20, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I sent an email to Elm Brook asking the same question, what does Bobby need or want and they are going to give it to his POA and let me know. I will be happy to share the info when I get it. If anyone else finds out before me, please share what we can get him. I was thinking candy, cookies, robe, pjs, blanket anything to brighten his day. We plan on going to see him next week.
Andrea Zable September 20, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Hi Carolyn, Hard for him to eat very hard stuff. Soft things in small pieces are better... I can break things up for him, but it has to be soft... no restrictions for sugar etc., but soft is best.... Thank you for your kind words! I was reading these to him today...
Corinne Bussa September 20, 2013 at 10:55 PM
I grew up in Yorkfield and remember Bobby! So sorry to hear of his troubles...he really had a way of lighting up your day.
Kimberly Folkerts McBride September 22, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I know Bobby because he has spent every holiday for the past decade with my family because my Aunt Donna Buziecki has given so much to help him feel as much love as possible. Donna and her family have made him truly see what a loving family is like. She has gone above and beyond to take care of him physically and emotionally!! What Bobby has been through is horrible, but he is blessed to be loved and taken care of by such an amazing friend in Donna!!! We could all learn a lesson from Donna in the way we live our lives.
Melissa Olson September 24, 2013 at 11:17 PM
I am so sorry to hear about Bobby! He is such a sweet man! We have know him for years through Donna. She is a beautiful person as well, taking him into her heart and into all of ours! We love and miss you Bobby! Stephanie is going to try to come see you while she is out there next week. Wish we lived closer so we could all come see you. You are in our thoughts and prayers! We love you 💋

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