By Steve Jagler Special to Published Jul 13, 2011 at 4:37 PM
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

BizTimes recently received two more national awards for editorial excellence at the Alliance of Area Business Publications (AABP) Summer Conference in Providence, R.I.

Awards help build credibility for a business and boost staff morale.

However, some things mean much more than any plaque, trophy, certificate or medal a professional organization can bestow. There are human rewards that are given without as much fanfare in noble professions such as health care and community service. They speak to the higher callings of compassion and love.

My wife, Kristi, was the recipient of such a reward while we were at the conference in Providence.

Kristi is a caregiver at Touching Hearts Inc. in Brookfield. One of her favorite clients is Emma Vitek. For the past 10 years, Emma has been afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Emma has been cared for by her doting husband, Chuck Vitek, at their condominium in Oak Creek.

Emma and Chuck were married in 1947. Both had served as medics in the Navy during World War II. Emma, who was born in Providence, grew up in Salem, Mass., and met Chuck while both were serving at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital after the war. They raised one adopted daughter, Marianne, who now has two daughters of her own.

In recent weeks, Emma's Alzheimer's grew progressively worse, leaving Chuck with no choice but to take her to a group home where she can receive the care she needs.

After making that painful decision, Chuck took the time to send the following email to Kristi's employer while we were in Providence. With Chuck's permission, I share his message with you here:

"To whom it may concern: This letter is to confirm that Touching Hearts did an outstanding job in providing in-home assistance to my wife, Emma, who has Alzheimer's disease for the last 10 years and is in the final stages of that illness. The company answered all of her needs and was most cooperative in every way. I cannot say enough about the woman that was assigned to take care of my wife.

"Kristi Jagler not only took care of the needs of my wife very professionally and completely but she also endeared herself to my wife and they became close friends and my wife many times told Kristi that she loved her. Kristi became a part of our family and will continue to be so. Emma's family thanks Touching Hearts for all that they have done for us and we cannot thank them enough."

There. I should have warned you this one was going to get sentimental, but it would have diminished the impact.

"That came from my heart, and if you want to share it, that's fine with me. I said that with all sincerity," Chuck told me on the phone after I asked for his permission to share his message.

God bless you, Emma, Chuck and the other World War II-era folks still with us, including Clarence Thorn of South Milwaukee. You truly are the "Greatest Generation."

As for my wife, I could not be prouder of you.

Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at