Bismarck man reminding people to stop and smell the roses


Oscar Rueb has been giving out roses from his garden for about 15 years.

The 86-year-old retired barber and self-made florist says this may be his last year preparing arrangements, but it’s been one of the most meaningful.

“It’s just so worthwhile, the hospitals and nursing homes and people, for the most part, are so grateful for something so small,” Rueb said.

His typical methods of delivery were dashed with the pandemic, so someone suggested he call Sister Kathleen Atkinson.

“I got to become the person that delivered the roses, and I found new people so that’s it,” Atkinson said. “Kindness finds a way to get through in the toughest times.”

With Atkinson’s help, Rueb expanded his flower distribution to nursing homes, hospitals and those isolated because of the pandemic.

“Even in the rest homes, partial care, a lot of them have to stay in their room, so even a little thing like a bouquet or a bowl kind of cheered them up for whatever reason,” Atkinson said.

When Atkinson began her deliveries, she realized lots of people knew Rueb, not only for his floral arrangements but his 50 years as a barber at the Arrowhead Plaza in Bismarck.

“I figured when I was barbering I gave 130,000 haircuts in 50 years. I’m not sure how many bad ones,” Rueb said.

Atkinson says Rueb and his roses are a bright spot during the pandemic.

“Kindness finds a way. Beauty makes it even in this tough time, and Oscar is an example of that,” Atkinson said.

Rueb says he’s heard gratitude from those who’ve received the roses, but he says the flowers help him, too.

“Trying to lift somebody else up, you find it makes your own load a little bit lighter. Everybody’s got problems,” Rueb said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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