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November 13, 2018

Family Donates Mural Remembering Special Patient

"Alpaca Dennis will always be watching over you"


November 12, 2018

Family donates mural, remembering special patient

“Alpaca Dennis Will Always Be Watching Over You”

APPLETON, Wis. – One year after the passing of Dennis Kruzicki, the nurses on the 7th floor Inpatient Oncology unit at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton still talk about the man who left a lasting impact on their team. ­­

“He always learned something personal about each one of us,” said Leigh McNamara, Inpatient Oncology Patient Care Manager.

Dennis Kruzicki passed away on November 10, 2017, following a 20-year battle with several forms of cancer. He received much of his care from the ThedaCare oncology team in Appleton. During his time on the unit, he formed lasting relationships with many team members, including McNamara.

“Dennis impacted the team with his witty, honest and humorous personality,” said McNamara. “It was a privilege and honor to be part of his care team.”

Knowing how much the team meant to Dennis, his wife, Josie, wanted to do something special to mark the one-year anniversary of his passing. And Josie had the perfect way to honor her husband and show the family’s appreciation for ThedaCare staff – a hand-painted mural, featuring Dennis and all of his wonderful qualities.

On November 9, 2018, ThedaCare team members were on hand when Josie unveiled the mural the family donated to the floor.

The mural features many parts of Dennis Kruzicki’s life, including his love for alpacas. During his many treatments, Dennis, along with his wife, started Kruzicki’s Kemo Kritters. His hobby led to his nickname of “Alpaca Dennis”.

“Alpacas allowed him get back out in the public,” explained Josie. “They gave him something to look forward to and gave him an outlet, and now they have been my saving grace.”

The painting was done by Dennis’s cousin and took nearly 110 hours to complete. Besides Dennis and his alpacas, the mural also features ribbons signifying all cancers and the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton building.

“Everyone asks how I can give the painting away,” said Josie. “It was never meant for me, it was meant for this floor. The nursing staff, housekeeping, every department. They’ve been my family these past years.”

The painting is now on display outside of room 707. Josie said she has fond memories of that room, times where Dennis felt well.

Josie hopes by donating the mural, it can brighten the day of others receiving care on the 7th floor. She also hopes it will bring a smile to the faces of staff that cared for Dennis, so they know “Alpaca Dennis” will always be here.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.