Jacqueline Rutkowski Bialorucki, 1923-2013: Blade writer gave household advice

 Jackie Rutkowski
Jackie Rutkowski

Jacqueline Rutkowski Bialorucki, whose Sunday household advice column, “Just Ask Jackie,” helped Blade readers out of sticky situations — whatever the color or consistency — for more than 25 years, died Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. She was 89.

She was in ill health recently, her daughter Connie Topor said. Nevertheless, Mrs. Bialorucki of Sylvania Township made a point of sending Christmas cards writing a note in each. For decades she shared her life in detailed letters to family and friends.

“She never let anybody get away. She kept them in her circle by writing letters,” her daughter said.

Mary Alice Powell, The Blade’s retired food editor, received cards and “no-reason, no-special-day notes” as she wrote in one column, from Mrs. Bialorucki.

“I considered her a very good friend, besides a co-worker,” Miss Powell said.

Mrs. Bialorucki was employed by The Blade nearly 26 years, retiring Sept. 1, 1985. She did secretarial work in the department once called “women’s news.” Her title became news assistant, and she fielded telephone calls, helped maintain a recipe file for the food editor, and compiled calendars of events for publication.

“She did all of the tasks needed to keep the department running,” said Sally Vallongo, a Blade retiree who still writes about music for the newspaper and who worked with Mrs. Bialorucki in the features department. Although Mrs. Bialorucki’s main duty was not as a writer, “she did everything else that enabled the writers and editors to put out these pages. She really had her finger in almost every pie that was baked in the features department.”

In the 1960s, she helped with a Sunday Blade column, “Mary’s Readers Exchange,” which published reader requests for yarn or fabric that ran out midproject or mislaid poems and reader giveaways — from kindling wood to kittens.

In 1967, she started her weekly household hints column under the byline Jackie Rutkowski, which she researched and wrote after her workday.

“She was the go-to person for all kinds of household problems,” Mrs. Vallongo said.

Readers asked how to keep bananas from going dark and how to remove mildew from a wall; how to clean glue from a stove top and how to remove grass stains from pants. She had an extensive library and clipping file of solutions others found first.

“This was before the Internet,” her daughter said. “People couldn’t go to the Internet and get the answer. They’d go to her.”

Readers could even ask for a personal reply. She researched and tested every answer, just to make sure.

Her last column appeared in November, 1995.

She grew up in North Toledo and was a 1940 graduate of Woodward High School. She also was a graduate of Tri-State Business College. She was employed by Mennel Milling Co. and Latrobe Steel Co. before she was hired by The Blade.

She and her late first husband, Alvin Rutkowski, traveled the world. She collected angel and butterfly figures and crystals and grew flowers.

She wrote poetry and won writing contests and liked to waltz and jitterbug.

She was rarely without a canine companion.

She was a member of St. Clement Church.

Her youngest daughter, Kathleen Bige Wert, died March 16, 1989.

Her first husband, Alvin Rutkowski, died Aug. 2, 1979. She married Edwin Bialorucki in September, 1995. He died in March, 2000. Surviving are her daughters Connie Topor and Pamela Hammer; sisters, Shirley Nichpor and Joan Kozlowski; a granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter.

Memorial services are at 11 a.m. Tuesday, which would have been her 90th birthday, at Sujkowski Funeral Home Northpointe, where a gathering of friends and family is to begin at 9 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Toledo.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.