Saanich’s Rudi Hoenson has matched more than $100

Saanich’s Rudi Hoenson has matched more than $100

For Saanich veteran, philanthropic work a duty to colleagues

Rudi Hoenson, 91, helps raise $200,000 for Broadmead Care lodge through matching donation

Rudi Hoenson fell in love with a good cup of coffee as an 18 year old living in Java, Indonesia.

The year was 1941, and he was fascinated by the daily ritual of roasting and grinding the beans before pouring hot water from two feet above the mug.

“It makes the grinds swirl around,” says Hoenson, now 91. “I still make mine the same way to this day.”

Hoenson’s life story goes far beyond a good cup of coffee, but getting him to tell the tales takes some doing. He prefers to focus on his philanthropic work at the Lodge at Broadmead senior care home, where he’s donated over $600,000 including a $100,000 (and counting) matching donation to help Broadmead install overhead lifts. The $1.3 million project will benefit 115 Second World War and Korea War veterans and another 110 seniors who live at the lodge.

“What am I going to use the money for,” says Hoenson, a WWII vet and former prisoner of war at a Japanese encampment. “I can identify with the people (at Broadmead). A lot are veterans and they also went through the terrible times.”

The facility is the primary provider of residential care and day programs for veterans on Vancouver Island.

A native of Holland, Hoenson moved to Indonesia (then a Dutch colony) with his dad, who was stationed there.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941, Hoenson immediately enlisted with the Dutch forces.

He fought the Japanese in the Indonesian jungle before he and about 500 Dutch soldiers were caught and imprisoned. He remained a prisoner of war for three and a half years, until U.S. soldiers showed up a month after the war’s end in 1945.

“I went in at 130 pounds and when I came out, I was 80 pounds. I could have survived maybe a few more years, but some guys, they either refused to eat, which was suicide because they’d beat you to death, or they got sick and died,” he said.

The prisoners’ diet was mostly rice, sometimes with a bit of squash, and if they were really lucky, some vegetables.

“Twice, maybe, there was a bit of excess whale blubber with the rice, which we gobbled up because we needed it so badly.”

Hoenson can still recall his first proper meal upon release from prison, when he was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Chenango.

“It was so rich (for us), most of us threw up,” said Hoenson, who still includes rice in his daily diet. “We couldn’t eat that way anymore.”

Hoenson slowly returned to the Western way of life. At 28 years old, he chose Calgary as his first North American home because of its proximity to the Rockies, which were glorified in the 1936 movie Rose Marie.

“I saw the Mountie canoeing in front of mountainous backdrops,” he said.

As it happened, Hoenson made his money in the Alberta oil boom while also spending plenty of time hiking in the wilderness of Banff. He moved to Saanich in 1979 with wife Sylvia. The couple was generous long before Sylvia died in 2008 after 52 years of marriage.

Hoenson’s contribution to other Broadmead Care fundraising campaigns include upgrades to its residential care equipment, including the installation of accessible bathtubs a few years ago.

“I strongly believe that we should be more supportive of the veterans – not just in Victoria, but all over Canada,” Hoenson said. “The veterans are old people now that fought more than 70 years ago, and we should help these people who did so much for us – we are so lucky to live in this wonderful country.”

Broadmead’s acting director of development, Jennifer Jascheko, was the first to suggest the idea of challenging the community to match Hoenson’s donation up to $20,000.

“His original offer was met in two days,” Jascheko said. “And it was his idea to increase his match to $30,000, which was matched in a week.”

The donation target grew until Hoenson topped out at $100,000 which was matched by February.

There are now two remaining challenges: a group of high-ranking army retirees has committed to match the per-room cost of $5,300 to cover the lift, motor, track, slings, installation and training.

Hoenson will also match funds raised at a golf tournament on May 1 at Uplands Golf Club. A lot of Broadmead’s support comes from military groups such as local Legions, naval officers and Ladies’ Auxiliaries, Jascheko said.

“The Lodge at Broadmead is 20 years old and was built before overhead lifts were available. But lifts are now the industry standard for care,” said Broadmead CEO David Cheperdak.

“Our staff has its own motto they came up with – Every Moment Matters – because the average stay here is 18 months and we want to do everything we can for the residents.”

Cheperdak said Hoenson’s donations are a game-changer because of limited funding available from Island Health and partner agencies for capital improvements and equipment.

“We need to keep up with the standard of care offered at modern care homes,” he said.

For more information, call 250-658-3274 or visit

Just Posted

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Influx of skilled tradespeople falling behind Greater Victoria construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Research into the city of Victoria’s economic recovery through the pandemic shows things to be moving in the right direction. (Photo courtesy City of Victoria)
Data shows Victoria experiencing gradual economic recovery

Statistics for early 2021 show promising returns as Victoria 3.0 begins to take hold

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read