Billy Kufs Our Pappy's Journey

First post: Jun 14, 2019 Latest post: Oct 31, 2019
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.  Many message Jason and many are not able to see the Facebook updates. Plus I am sure some on Facebook don't want to see the updates on Jason's feed.  Billy Kufs, has led a very exciting life.  Throughout his travels he has made many friends.  After his time as an Economics major at Ithaca College, he bought a newsstand called Kufs News. He later owned a local bar called the Shortstop Tavern for 30 years where he met many friends and colorful characters. Later he continued bartending and became a local newspaper columnist and television host on politics until recent years when his health made it too difficult to continue.  In the 1960's he hosted semi-pro basketball and softball tournaments throughout Upstate New York.  He also was an innovative bookmakercreating many of the prop bets famous today.  Billy ran fantasy baseball, fantasy football, and college basketball calcuttas before almost anyone in the country did.  He married Nancy Tortorello Kufs until she died of cancer and then raised their only child, Jason, alone.  Billy and Jason would be best friends for decades sharing their love for baseball, each other, and life together. Jason later married Joanna and they had three children, Billy (his namesake),  Carly, and Ollie, all his pride and joy. Those five people cared for big Billy in their home on Kearney Ave. in Auburn until Easter of this year when Billy's health took a turn for the worse.  He fell three times in 24 hours in the bathroom area, too weak to get up any longer. He talked the fire department into letting him stay the first 2 times but the third time they insisted he go to the hospital. 

His health problems really began in 1995 when his diabetes was diagnosed and he almost had his left foot amputated. He broke many bones in that foot and it became disfigured.  He kept the foot, however. He never lost even a single toe under his son Jason's care for those diabetic feet, although the left foot issues would hospitalize him a half dozen times and force him permanently into a wheelchair in 2005.  He also was rapidly losing his vision and in 2000 had an unsuccessful retina surgery on his right eye. In 2007 a gangrene gallbladder almost took his life and when he recovered he was left totally blind.  He never once complained about not being able to walk or see in the past 12 years, only showing gratitude to have his love of mystery books, dixieland music, baseball, politics, and most of all his family nearby.  By 2013 his aortic valve was closing and he had a successful open heart valve replacement surgery. A doctor told him he would be surprised if he lived more than 3 more years but he once again defied the odds.  From that point forward he has slowly had serious health issues resulting from his diabetes including chronic kidney failure. Between pneumonia, congestive heart failure, plural effusions, and other issues he has spent time in the hospital each year. The past two months, however he has been fighting for his life. Three stints in Upstate University Hospital surrounded by time in the Commons on St. Anthony left him in a position where he needed to choose between letting go or the hospital.  The doctor at the Commons did not see him as a candidate for dialysis.  He was not only not able to get out of bed for physical therapy but could not even withstand getting out of bed period.  We were dealing with his time being done and trying to make peace with that.  We were even encouraging him of this. But he was not ready to go yet.  And his mind has been sharp through at all and despite pressure, Jason and Joanna felt strongly that Billy could and should make his own end of life decisions. So Joanna tracked down the doctor and she called an ambulance for Billy.  He had never wanted an ambulance before and his 13 hospitalizations this century were all forced and against his will. But this time I guess he just knew. At the hospital on June 5th when he arrived they said he was very sick, nausea, pain, and confusion had taken over.  They put a port in on June 7th to start dialysis immediately or he would not live much longer. They also continued to treat the c diff that he picked up causing serious issues with his intestines.  In addition to all of that, sadly, the good right foot had a sore while at the Commons. It became infected and through a bone scan it was discovered that the bone was infected as well.  The vascular surgeons along with infectious disease doctors at Upstate recommended amputation on the entire right leg.  This seemed shocking, that foot never really had issues like the left one.  But trusting doctors on June 14th, Billy had his right leg amputated.  That is when we decided to use this CaringBridge to give information. We appreciate your support and words of kindness and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.