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Longtime hospital employee celebrates 80th birthday
Hinsdale – When he started working as a janitor at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in 1967, Rueben Thorson never imagined he’d someday work up the ranks to become a licensed practice nurse and surgical assistant. But his hard work and persistence have paid off in a job that he loves – so much that he can’t think of retiring even though he’s now 80 years old.

“I’m going to live to be 100 – that’s for sure,” the Plainfield resident said, adding a quick punchline: “Unless I die first!”

Thorson’s colleagues threw him a surprise birthday party Monday, Aug. 31 at the hospital; His actual birthday was Aug. 30. The celebration in the surgical services department staff lounge included a potluck dinner replete with ethnic specialties and vegetarian dishes. Thorson is a longtime vegetarian for health and religious reasons.

A deacon at the Bolingbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church, Thorson also is known for his strong faith in God and commitment to serving others. He and his wife, Rita, are area coordinators over a local contingent of Pathfinders, a worldwide organization of young people sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church that is similar to the Boy Scouts but includes both boys and girls. Being at a faith-based hospital brings a sense of eternal purpose to his work, he said.

“God does the healing and we do the work that makes it possible,” Thorson said. “We’re doing God’s work here.”

Over the years, Thorson has made countless friends throughout the hospital, where he’s best known for telling squeaky clean jokes that usually involve puns. His wife also was a licensed practice nurse at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital for more than 20 years. The couple has been married 44 years.

Rueben Thorson has three children and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His two sons, Mark and Peter, also worked at the hospital and a granddaughter, Patti Thorson, currently works in the hospital’s warehouse.

As a surgical assistant, Thorson scrubs in for operative procedures, helps position patients, and anticipates the surgeon’s needs. He switched from a full-time to a part-time schedule a few years ago. In 2001, he was named employee of the month. His colleagues call him a dedicated, conscientious worker.

“Rueben is an inspiration,” said his supervisor, Judy Gregorowicz, nurse manager of operating room. “His determination and spirit motivate our staff. Rueben truly exemplifies our hospital’s mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ.”