Robert D. Blute, Sr., M.D., 95, of Shrewsbury, husband of the late Ann-Marie (Hines) Blute, father of eleven children, former Chief of Urology and President of the Staff at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, and a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 surrounded by his loving family after a brief illness.
Born in Salem in 1921, he was the grandson of Irish immigrants who had worked as laborers and in factories throughout the North Shore. The eldest son of Michael and Ethel "Lena" Blute, his family moved to Boston when his father, a World War I veteran, became a Boston Police Officer, and he was educated at St. Peter School in Dorchester. The family, including his sisters Kathleen and Ann, later moved to Roslindale. A stellar student, he went on to matriculate at Boston College High School in the class of 1939 and received an academic scholarship to attend Boston College. Like so many members of the "Greatest Generation," he was the first in his family to attend college.
A pre-med student and Classics major, he volunteered the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was enlisted in the Army Medical Administrative Corps as a Reserve Second Lieutenant. He was a passionate Eagle who credited the Jesuit education he received at the Heights with his acceptance to Tufts Medical School. "Everything that developed in my life," he said "started on registration day at Boston College."
While studying at Tufts Medical School, Dr. Blute's best friend introduced him to his future wife Ann-Marie Hines of West Roxbury, whom he called "Annie," and a 66-year love affair began. The War had ended, but Dr. Blute's service was only just beginning. After accelerated surgical residency training at Boston City Hospital and Brooke Army Medical Base in San Antonio, Texas, he was promoted to Captain, and at the age of 24 was appointed Chief of Surgery in a 250-bed U.S. Army Hospital in Bremerhaven, Germany. When he received orders in August 1947 to report to Germany, he proposed marriage to Ann-Marie. Two weeks later, he and Ann-Marie were married and began what they thought of as a 'two-year long honeymoon' in Europe during the Occupation. There, the Blutes had the first of their eleven children.
When the Blutes returned to the United States, Dr. Blute completed his residency in Urologic surgery at Boston City Hospital. He and Ann-Marie eventually settled in Shrewsbury and Dr. Blute began a 45-year career providing care to the Central Massachusetts community. He was Chief of Urology at Saint Vincent Hospital for thirty years and served a term as President of the medical staff (1974-1975). A highlight of his career was entering into practice with his eldest son, Robert D. Blute, Jr., M.D., with whom he practiced for twenty years.
"It was a privilege to work with my father for so many years as a Urologic Surgeon," said Dr. Blute, Jr. "He was held in such high esteem and loved by his surgical peers, colleagues, nurses, and most importantly, patients. He had a true gift of interacting with an abundance of confidence, sincerity, and surgical skill that made patients feel secure when they felt most vulnerable."
Dr. Blute was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a lifetime Member of the American Urologic Association, and the New England Section of the American Urologic Association. He was also a Member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Worcester District Medical Society. He was honored in 1998 with the Sisters of Providence Award by the Diocese of Worcester Society of St. Luke.
The Blutes raised their children in Shrewsbury. A major focus of Dr. Blute's life was his dedication to his Catholic faith and Catholic education. He was a founding parent of St. Mary School in Shrewsbury, which awarded him the first Father Edward W. Lynch Founder's Award. He served multiple roles at St. Mary's Church as a parishioner since 1954, including as a Lector for 50 years, a Eucharistic Minister, a sponsor of adult converts to Catholicism, and as a long-time member of the bible study group. He was also a committed supporter of St. John's High School (Shrewsbury), where his five sons and four grandsons were educated, and where he was made an honorary graduate in 2008, as well as Notre Dame Academy (Worcester), where his six daughters and two of his granddaughters were educated.
He was an active Boston College alumnus and supported his alma mater for over seven decades. He was a founding and sustaining member of the Fides Society of Alumni donors, active in Class of 1943 activities, and a BC football season ticket holder for more than forty years. After moving to Worcester, he continued his dedication to Jesuit values as a longtime member of the College of the Holy Cross Sodality of Our Lady.
Dr. Blute and his wife Ann-Marie shared a lifetime commitment to charitable work and aiding the poor. In recognition of this commitment and service, Dr. Blute was invited by Cardinal John O'Connor of New York to St. Patrick's Cathedral where he was inducted into the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, the oldest and highest honor bestowed on laymen by the Catholic Church.
He and Ann-Marie shared a life-long love of classical music and for decades they could be found in their regular seats at the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Worcester Opera. He was a voracious reader and a gifted raconteur. A "Renaissance man," he regaled friends and family with stories culled from his vast knowledge of history, medicine, politics, literature and the arts.
Dr. Blute leaves eleven children. Robert D. Jr., M.D. of Northborough, Margaret A. Marshall of Shrewsbury, Michael L., M.D. of Boston, John P. of Columbus, Ohio, Carol J. Ryan of Holden, Mary E. Shrewsbury, Peter I. of Shrewsbury, Joseph G. of Natick, Ann-Marie T. of Shrewsbury, and Kathleen E. Madaus of Shrewsbury, Paula M. Ebben of Dedham, and a sister, Kathleen Matthews, of Fort Myers, Florida. "Papa" also leaves twenty-three grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren who will always remember him as "Papa the Great."
Family and friends will honor and remember Dr. Blute's life by gathering for calling hours at Heald & Chiampa Funeral Directors ~ The Sumner House, 5 Church Road, On the Common, Shrewsbury Center on Friday, October 28th from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday in Saint Mary's Church, 640 Main Street, Shrewsbury at 10:00 a.m. Burial with military honors will follow in Mountain View Cemetery.
Donations can be made to St. Mary's Church, Capital Campaign, 18 Summer Street, Shrewsbury, MA 01545.