This is the story of a long-distance wedding, a robot and a father’s love for his family.

Diagnosed with heart cancer in June 2017, José Blakeley was undergoing inpatient chemotherapy at UW Medical Center and couldn’t travel. But he couldn’t bear the thought of missing the marriage of his son, Alfredo Blakeley-Ruiz, to Jordan Bush in Colorado Springs last September.

“We were thinking of ways in which I could be more present,” said Mr. Blakeley. To solve the problem, the family decided to try a telepresence robot — essentially an iPad with telecommunications capacity mounted on a rolling stand — which would allow Mr. Blakeley to move around the venue and talk to guests.

Then UW Medical Center nursing staff stepped in, decorating a room and providing a cake and non-alcoholic champagne for Mr. Blakeley and some local friends and family.

“Some of our patients are here for a long time, like Mr. Blakeley, and they really become part of our family,” says Renee Paquet, BSN, R.N., nurse manager of the cardiac care unit.

Mr. Blakeley was grateful for his nurses. So much so that, as a way of thanking them, he and his wife, Lucy, donated a patient information monitor and a walker to the unit and paid for two nurses to attend the 2018 Magnet Conference. “The care was outstanding, very dedicated,” said Mr. Blakeley. “I was there for close to three months, so I got to know a lot of them.”

Sadly, Mr. Blakeley died on Jan. 7, 2018. But his family and friends will cherish the memory of his presence at Alfredo’s wedding in Colorado.

“I was able to personally greet every single person who attended the wedding,” said Mr. Blakeley, who gave a toast during the reception. “And I was able to be with my son at that moment.”


Through a gift to the UWMC Fund for Greatest Need.

José Blakeley was a partner architect at Microsoft as well as a deacon for the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Pictured, from left: José Blakeley, Lucinda Blakeley, Jordan Bush and Alfredo Blakeley-Ruiz.