As a 93-year-old war veteran who’s seen the best and worst of humanity, Rudi Hoenson has every reason to be a pessimist.
And yet, Hoenson exemplifies the eternal optimist.
On Friday, another element of Hoenson’s legacy of was etched into the towering glass wall that honours Broadmead Lodge’s biggest donors. Atop all of the names is Hoenson’s, now that the philanthropist has crested $1 million in donations to the Broadmead care home dedicated to Canadian veterans. It’s Broadmead Care Society’s greatest amount of donations from a single source.
Hoenson doesn’t live at Broadmead. He lives in Royal Oak, but he stops by enough (up to four times per week) that it can be confusing.
The unveiling came on Friday, when Hoenson was also honoured by the Kingdom of Netherlands with the Mobilization War Cross and the Medal of Order and Peace for his efforts in serving during and after the Second World War.
Hoenson was in good company for the medal honour, with Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon and Rear-Admiral Art McDonald of the Maritime Forces Pacific and of Joint Task Force Pacific.
Hoenson is part of Broadmead Care’s latest fundraising campaign, Every Moment Matters, for which he’ll match up to $130,000 in donations.
As a youth, Hoenson was among 500 Dutch soldiers caught by Japanese in the Indonesian jungle. He was a prisoner of war near Nagasaki for three-and-a-half years, until the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb. Hoenson was down to about 80 pounds at the time of the bombing, and remarkably, made it out, while witnessing scenes of horror. He later moved to Canada in the 1950s.
Hoenson worked in Calgary and got into the oil business, faring well.
In the past decade alone, Hoenson has donated millions to local charities and initiatives such as Broadmead, Cops for Cancer (he once cut a $7,000 cheque to bring Reynolds’s annual Tour de Rock fundraising over $100,000). He gave money to the Government House, to help renovate the team room, and to provide deer fencing for the roses.