By: Jim Ahstrom

George Robinson was born in 1926 in Natick, Massachusetts, a town known for the manufacturing of shoes and baseballs. George finished high school in Natick in 1944. That summer, he was a lifeguard in Hyannis Port, and taught Ted Kennedy in his lifeguard class.

Five months later, in December 1944, he joined the Navy, graduating from gunnery school in August 1945. He says that “the Japanese capitulated because they had heard that he joined the Navy.” His tour was spent patrolling the East Coast of the U.S. and playing baseball with Navy teams, being discharged in July 1946.

The GI Bill enabled him to enroll in Boston University where he majored in Marketing. He had done some selling in junior high school where he had gone door to door selling ties hand painted by his sister.

In the winter of 1947–1948, he hitchhiked to Cape Cod to interview for a job selling and delivering milk during the summer. No answer until May 1948, when, surprise, he received a phone call telling him he had the job. Then, for five summers, he sold milk on Cape Cod, often working from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Since it was all commission work, he made quite a bit of money.

Back in Boston that fall, he noted that New England Telephone was hiring. He began his 36-year career with the telephone company in marketing, but soon moved to a more lucrative position in the Billing Department. The last ten years were spent in the Labor Relations Department, before retiring in 1988. From then until this year, he lived in Palm-Aire.

1951 was a big year. George graduated from Boston University, in the same class as his sister. And he got married, fathering four boys in five years and a girl seven years later. His five children have given him three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. George’s first marriage ended in divorce after 20 years and he lost his second wife to illness after 30 years. He met Ginny McIntyre five years ago and moved in with her on August 14, 2015.

George enjoys traveling and has visited Africa, South America, Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, and Norway, plus several river cruises in Europe. Interested in sports, he ushered for the Chicago White Sox while they trained here. George was captain of the Over-70s Longwood tennis team. He ran three marathons and still enjoys running, estimating his annual distance at 1,000 miles. He tries to walk 20 miles a week, works out three times a week, and plays golf that often also. For a special birthday celebration, he went skydiving with his son and granddaughter. They jumped at 14,000 feet and had a freefall of 11,000 feet.

 

 

Over the past few issues of Harbor Light, The Continuum has featured an article that portrays a fictitious scenario of a family’s journey through our full Continuum process at Plymouth Harbor. The series is designed to provide a closer, more detailed look at our continuing care philosophy. This marks the final article in the series.

 

After mom talked it through with our family and the staff, she began working with Home Care to provide in-home health services. At that point in time, mom knew that she needed an extra hand, but like many of us would, she wanted to remain in the comfort of her own home. She still took good care of herself, but was becoming a bit forgetful and needed more help getting around. It was for these reasons that she ultimately decided to work with Home Care, rather than transition into assisted living.

Together with Home Care nurses, she developed a plan that aligned with her goals. They began coming up to the apartment to help out, and were extremely caring and personable with her. They helped mom with everyday tasks – getting from here to there, both within the apartment and Plymouth Harbor, taking medication, preparing meals, and more. In addition, they provided all of us with peace of mind, just knowing that a helping hand was there if needed.

Three years went by, and mom continued to work with Home Care. Over the years, our family grew to know the nurses extremely well. We appreciated all that they did for mom (and us) and how they always kept us informed of her goings-on. Even with the extra help, mom remained her spirited, energetic self. She kept up her social life, and always loved having our families over to her beautiful apartment.

At the end of that third year, mom (now age 90) began to slow down. She began needing more and more help, and was losing her memory at an increasing rate. She often wandered and forgot where she was, and we were all beginning to worry more about the chance of her falling. So, mom, along with the nurses, decided it was again time to discuss her options. We sat down together once more and talked about what the next step might be. After some discussion, mom decided that she was ready to move into the Smith Care Center (SCC), which offered more medical assistance and personalized care.

Shortly thereafter, Home Care contacted SCC, and began making arrangements for mom to move in. After some time, mom was able to get a single room, and in the meantime, we worked with Residential Services to ensure we had ample time to move her belongings out of her Tower apartment. They helped us to downsize, and we were then able to bring her favorite possessions into Smith Care, making her room homey and comfortable.

It didn’t take long for mom and our families to get acquainted with the new staff in SCC. Everyone was extremely patient and kind, and they made sure mom continued to have an interactive schedule. She participated in resident meetings, monthly art therapy, and birthday “bashes,” and even got her hair and nails done each week in the salon.

Mom remained in the Smith Care Center for two more years before she passed. We will never forget the many wonderful experiences she had there, and how Plymouth Harbor was there for her at every stage. We are forever thankful that mom chose to live at Plymouth Harbor — it was one of the greatest gifts she could have given us those 16 years ago when she moved in.

 

 

By: Addie Hurst

Constance, “Connie,” and Haviland moved into Plymouth Harbor on July 22, and are fairly well-acclimated and happy with their new abode. They have lots of friends in Sarasota, having lived here since 2010, and have several friends who will be moving in shortly.

Connie was born in Kensington, Maryland, and eventually graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BA in psychology. Her first job was with Arthur D. Little, a prominent consulting firm. Then, in 1966, she moved to The Hague and joined the Insurance Company of North America, where she eventually became Director of Planning for the European region. She moved with them to Brussels for the next 16 years.

After the death of her father, she moved to Ocean Pines, Maryland, near Ocean City, where she and her partner formed a company providing financial services and managing condominiums. Next, she became CFO of Ocean Petroleum and while there, founded the Eastern Shore Performing Arts Society and co-founded the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. Retiring in 2000, she served on the Reader’s Advisory Committee of the Sarasota Herald Tribune and on the board of the Sarasota Concert Association and SILL (Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning).

Haviland was born and raised in Fort Valley, Georgia. She graduated from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, with a BA in history and Spanish. After a brief stint teaching junior high school, she became Director of Christian Education in Savannah. Then she attended Emory University in Atlanta and received an MS in Christian Education.

For the next 14 years, she was Director of Christian Education for the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. Next, she became a recruiter of students for the nursing program at Emory. After that, she was an executive for the YWCA of Atlanta, followed by Assistant General Secretary of the General Board of Discipleship of the Methodist Church in Nashville, and then General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, DC. Last was a stint at the American Bible Society in New York.

We welcome these accomplished ladies to Plymouth Harbor!

 

 

At age 90, Arthur Ancowitz is still dancing…tap dancing, that is. While Dr. Ancowitz has many talents, hobbies, and interests, his passion for tap dancing is one thing he prides himself on the most. However, unlike his passion for medicine, Arthur didn’t always have an interest in tap dancing.

“Five years ago, I saw a YouTube video of Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney tap dancing,” he says. “I thought to myself if they can do it, I’d like to try.” So he began taking lessons at the local YMCA. He liked it so much that he went on to work with instructor Mike McManus at the Friendship Center, and he’s been taking classes ever since. “I’d say I tap dance at least once a week,” he says matter-of-factly.

Not only does Arthur dance once a week (or more), he was also instrumental in getting tap dancing classes started here at Plymouth Harbor. Along with Wellness Director Chris Valuck, Arthur helped to develop the class with his Friendship Center instructor. Today, the class has at least five resident “regulars.”

It’s not surprising that Arthur is still tap dancing. From a young age, he placed a heavy emphasis on remaining active and healthy, and had a keen interest in practicing medicine. “My grandfather wanted me to be a good doctor. The best I could be, and I was,” Arthur says.

A New Yorker “through and through,” Arthur is one of three children, born and raised in New York City. After Arthur graduated high school, he decided that he wanted a small-school experience and chose to attend Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. After one year there, Pearl Harbor occurred. As a result, he joined the Navy as an apprentice seaman. He worked his way up to Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class, and in 1944, the Navy sent him to medical school at New York University College of Medicine.

After graduation in 1948, Arthur went on to complete his fellowship, internship, and residency. After that, he was called back to service, this time by the Army, to serve in the Korean War. He was assigned duties in the Pentagon as an internist, and one of his responsibilities was to accompany VIPs assigned by the President on numerous air flights across the world.

Among these VIPs was General Omar N. Bradley – one of the United States’ most distinguished and respected generals. “I got to know him very well,” Arthur recalls. “He treated me like a son.” In fact, the General and his wife, Mary, hosted the wedding for Arthur and his wife, Marjorie. It was at the Pierre Hotel in New York City for 200 guests. Though they later divorced, Arthur and Marjorie had three beautiful children – a son, Richard, whose full name is Richard Bradley Ancowitz, and two daughters, Nancy and MJ.

After his service in the Army, Arthur returned to the Veteran’s Administration where he served as the Section Chief in Internal Medicine at the Bronx VA Hospital. Following his time there, Arthur went into private practice in New York. But to this day, he articulates a strong respect and admiration for the military. “I identify very strongly with those heroes,” he says, referring to the men he treated throughout his service. “And I hold in high regard those men and women who choose the military as a career.”

Arthur experienced a loss during those years in private practice when his father suffered a stroke. However, out of this unfortunate situation came some good. “I felt that the treatment he received was inadequate. That motivated me to study stroke and improve its treatment,” he remembers. In 1967, Arthur founded the Stroke Foundation – an organization that he still runs to this day.
Extremely motivated and passionate, Arthur has written several books on stroke prevention, and with the help of the Stroke Foundation, he is helping to fund research for the University of Florida, the New York University College of Medicine Department of Geriatrics, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. In November, the Stroke Foundation will present an award to a young internist who wishes to pursue a fellowship in Gerontology. For more information on stroke and stroke prevention, he encourages others to take advantage of the informative and helpful articles that can be found on the Stroke Foundation’s website: www.strokefoundationusa.org.

After 40 years in private practice, Arthur retired and “migrated to Florida.” In 1980, he purchased a condo on Longboat Key and continued to remain active. He says he chose the area because, after he came down for a 6-mile race many years before, he was impressed by the surroundings, water, palm trees, and, of course, the weather. In 2014, he moved into Plymouth Harbor.

DSCN0692When asked about his hobbies, Arthur again circles back to tap dancing. But he also adds that he’s an advocate for line dancing, applauding Plymouth Harbor for offering both of these “wonderful aerobic exercises” to its residents. In addition to dancing, Arthur was once big into tennis, running, and biking. He completed 11 New York Marathons, and has “biked all over the world” with his now partner of 15 years, Ina Schnell, listing Timbuktu and Mongolia as two of their destinations. Arthur lights up when talking about Ina, who will move into Plymouth Harbor after the sale of her home. “She is a remarkable woman. She is knowledgeable in many subjects. Her charity is selective. It benefits many deserving organizations,” he says.

In addition to exercise, Arthur is also a strong advocate of low-fat and vegetarian diets, and applauds Chef René for “offering a diverse menu which avoids ‘institutional’ meals.” For fun, Arthur has a love of poetry. He is the author of a 2014 rhyming poetry book entitled “The Bard in Me,” available in the Plymouth Harbor Library. When it comes to being a published author, Arthur’s children followed in his footsteps. His son Richard, an attorney, has published several books on legal matters, and his daughter, Nancy, published a book entitled “Self-Promotion for Introverts®.”

Arthur enjoys the theater, the atmosphere here at Plymouth Harbor, and his six grandchildren – Allison, Valerie, Jonathan, Pamela, Joseph, and Benny. “They have been raised to be contributors to our society and a source of pride to our family,” he says of his family.

Arthur Ancowitz is a clinician, professor, lecturer, author, researcher, and scientist. But most importantly, Arthur is a smart, caring, and kind-hearted individual who still has so much to share with the world. “Before the final curtain descends, as it does for all, I intend to remain active, to help others, and to continue to have fun,” he ends with a smile.

 

From a young age, Walt Mattson had a profound interest in the newspaper and printing business. He delivered neighborhood newspapers, and even worked as a printer’s devil (one step below an apprentice) at his uncle’s weekly newspaper business in Pittsburgh during summer vacations. In the 1950s, he landed a job at a commercial printing plant in Portland, Maine, and went on to hold several high-ranking jobs in the newspaper business. Walt quickly climbed the corporate ladder, and in 1979, he was named the president of The New York Times Company.

How did he land this prestigious title, and what got him interested in the business in the first place?

View his September Insights presentation to find out:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees. A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing employee wellness program, OnBoardInsights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month. Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to resident Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.

Upcoming 2015 Insights Presentations:

October 23                         Susan Mauntel:  “Taking Risks and Winning”

 

Over the next few issues of Harbor Light, The Continuum will feature an article that discusses the full Continuum process here at Plymouth Harbor, through the eyes of a resident’s family member. Please note that this article series is fictional, and is designed to provide a closer, more detailed look at our continuing care philosophy.

A few weeks after my mother Jane’s brief illness, she was back to her normal self. However, I couldn’t help but reflect on the reason that we chose Plymouth Harbor in the first place. Yes, she wanted an active community that fostered her independence, but also one that could be there for her when needed. My mother couldn’t say enough about the kind, caring staff in Smith Care and Home Care that helped nurture her back to health, and I, too, am forever grateful to them.

Roughly two months after her illness, mom jumped back into her active lifestyle with full force. She took up a new class in the Wellness Center, and began to work out in the community, becoming a Guardian Ad Litem and a member of the local Woman’s Club. In her time at Plymouth Harbor, she also served as a member on several resident committees. To say she kept busy would be an understatement – she had more meetings and commitments on her calendar than I did back then!

Still, elder family members and friends of my mother continued to question the idea of a retirement community. They would always ask her, “You’re so active, why would you give up your home to live there?” and “Don’t you miss your privacy?” She always laughed, and shared a story about swapping life experiences with someone in the hallway or dining room, and how easily she found comfort in her apartment when she needed some down time. As with any move, it was an adjustment for her in that first year, but after that, she loved her new home and all that came with it.

My mother remained active and flourished in her 17th floor apartment for some time. Six years after that first illness – at the age of 87 – my mother began to have some minor concerns. She would talk to us about them, and then we began to notice. Since we were now local to Sarasota, we were able to spend a lot of time with her – Sunday night dinners, holidays, birthdays, family vacations, and even just because.

My brother was able to stop in a bit more often than I could during the week because he worked downtown. During that time period, I probably saw her about three or four times a month, as my family life was getting busier.

With mom included, we were all noticing that her memory was beginning to fade — not at all to an extreme, just a couple of missed details here and there. She was also beginning to have a harder time getting around the apartment, and needed more help to get to doctor appointments or help with medication. We, of course, didn’t mind, but that led us to a discussion, and we all agreed that it would be good if someone was there to help with those things if my brother and I were both unavailable.

After talking with the staff, my mother decided that working with Home Care to provide in-home health services was the right choice for her. She could work with the nurses to develop a plan that met her goals, and they would provide the services she needed in the comfort and privacy of her own home.

Stay tuned to hear more of our fictional Jane’s story in the October issue.

 

By Chris Valuck

One of the first questions I’m asked when a person finds out I’m a personal trainer is: “Why do I need a personal trainer, if I’m not ‘training’ for anything?” That’s a logical question, but it may help to know that trainers work with many different populations, from post-rehab to professional athletes and everything in between. However, not all trainers are created equal. Below are some questions that you may consider asking a trainer to help evaluate whether or not  that particular trainer is qualified to work with you based on your needs.

Before You Call a Personal Trainer.

Think about the following questions before you call a trainer:  What are your goals? What are your expectations of a personal trainer? How frequently would you like to work with a trainer, and what is your budget?

Interviewing The Trainer.

A thorough evaluation of a trainer’s credentials is critical to determine if their skills and abilities are appropriate for your needs.

Unfortunately, the fitness industry (i.e. personal trainers, group fitness instructors, etc.) is not a licensed field, nor is a trainer required to have a degree — or even a certification.  However, a trainer qualified to work with a special population, such as seniors,  should have all, or a combination, of the following: years of experience in the fitness industry working with a senior population, academic achievement in a health-related field (exercise science), and a nationally-respected certification.

Certification.

There are over 300 fitness certifications, but only three to four that are respected in the industry (ACSM and NSCA being the gold standard). Be sure to ask about certification and ask to see their card. If they worked hard for it, they’ll be proud to show you.

Academic Achievement.

Ideally, look for a trainer with a degree in Exercise Science.  A degree shows commitment to the field, and a trainer with a degree is likely to have a more solid understanding of not only anatomy and physiology, but chronic diseases and disabilities.

Years of Experience in the Industry.

Years of experience is a plus, but sadly, not a guarantee that the trainer is qualified to work any special needs that you may have. So, be specific when you question them about their experience working with a senior population and discuss your specific conditions.

Ask to see it!

A professional trainer should be able to provide proof of a current fitness certification, liability insurance, and CPR certification. Also ask for a copy of their session rate, billing procedure, cancellation policy, and hours of availability.  Lastly, ask for client references (and then actually call them).  Calling a reference will help to determine whether the trainer has the experience you require for your special needs. If they can’t produce these documents or provide references, walk away. It’s a red flag.

Personality.

So, you’ve interviewed them and they seem qualified, but now ask yourself: do you like them? Can you see yourself working closely with them? What is their communication style? If the trainer is super-high energy and you want someone who is low key and clam, move on, because you won’t be compatible.

The First Session.

Before your first session, your trainer should request your permission to send a medical clearance to your doctor(s). Once they have this, it’s their turn to interview and evaluate you! You should expect that your trainer will request that you first sign a consent/waiver prior to the evaluation, and that you complete a thorough medical and exercise history.  At a minimum, your evaluation will consist of a strength, flexibility, and balance assessment. The results of these tests will help the trainer develop an appropriate program for you.

The Bottom Line.

Whether you hire a trainer to improve balance, muscular strength, or cardiovascular endurance, your trainer should provide ongoing motivation, education, and regular

re-evaluations to assess progress and monitor health conditions. In turn, you will be asked for compliance, and to provide regular feedback to help your trainer tailor each session to your needs. Whether you work with a trainer short or long-term , another considerable benefit is the improved self-efficacy that results in working with a trainer to enhance your well-being.

 

By: Lee Yousri

I think almost everyone can boast of a full and interesting life, but I found Jean Glasser’s full, interesting, and also somewhat complicated. She discusses it with such verve and vigor, I almost asked her to write her own bio.

Jean hails from New Jersey. At the early age of 17, as an honor student from Hillside High, she was picked for employment by a prominent local law firm. She was thrilled. “I was an honor student but I hated school,” she confessed.

For the first six months she was stymied. Lawyers spoke a different language, but she heeded her father’s advice to “hang on” and eventually found herself for the next 30 years dealing with real estate matters, divorces, adoptions, estates, and all sorts of interesting subjects. To quote her: “I learned so much about law and life. It was most helpful with my own life. There was always a new challenge.”

Along the way she met and married her first husband and had a son. Unfortunately the marriage ended in divorce, but Jean soldiered on and was rewarded with a second and a third marriage, both of which sadly left her widowed. But what joy they brought! Plus they brought her four daughters, who in turn have blessed her with six grandchildren besides the three she has from her son.

Since there was no mention of Sarasota, I wondered how she had ended up here. Jean and her second husband, Edmond, visited close friends and fell in love with Sarasota. They thought, “In New Jersey we have a house in the city and one on the shore for summer fun. Sarasota encompasses both in one.”

The decision was made; in 1979, they moved south and settled in the South Gate area of Sarasota. Jean took a job with a law firm (it was in her blood) and together they thoroughly enjoyed life in Sarasota. After Edmond’s passing, Jean met Otto Glasser through an associate at the law firm. They married and took up residence in The Meadows. After adding 13 years to the 30 she had worked in New Jersey, Jean reluctantly retired at  Otto’s “request.”

This is not the end. Her volunteer work includes Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Selby Gardens, a four year term as Governor of the Bird Key Yacht Club, 17 years as President of the Meadows Condo Association, the choir of the Redeemer Church, Key Chorale, and the Meadows choir.

From the latter three you can guess that Jean is a singer. Key Chorale was especially interesting as it performed with the Symphony whenever a choir was needed. And you can add to all this her hobbies of walking, swimming, dancing, playing the organ, reading, crossword puzzles, gardening, the “arts,” etc., etc., etc.

One last thing: Jean claims she chose her apartment at Plymouth Harbor because of its many spacious closets. That’s interesting and quirky as most of her stories are. But no matter what her reason was, we’re just delighted she’s here!

 

Ted Rehl fell in love with music…not once, but twice. His love for music blossomed around piano, Fran’s around cello, and they met at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. With two music degrees, and a thirst for teaching, they began their careers. After retiring, Ted closed his piano and didn’t play again for 18 years. What brought him out of retirement?

View Ted and Fran’s August Insights presentation to find out:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees. A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing employee wellness program, OnBoardInsights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month. Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to resident Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.

 

Upcoming Insights Presentations:

September 25             Walt Mattson:  “Community College & the Newspaper Business”

October 23                         Susan Mauntel:  “Taking Risks and Winning”

Two desserts a day…that’s what George Heitler credits for reaching his 100th birthday. On September 3, 2015 to be exact, this accomplished and energetic Plymouth Harbor resident will celebrate this landmark with his wife Florence, who’s 95 years of age herself. But that’s not the only milestone being celebrated this summer – on July 30, 2015, Medicare and Medicaid celebrated its 50th anniversary. What do these two have in common? George Heitler.

As a child, George always admired Abraham Lincoln. “I thought he was a good man, an honest lawyer, and I respected that he charged modest fees,” he says of the former president. Despite his apparent interest in law, George first thought he’d try his hand at pre-med. That didn’t last long though. In college, he performed his first dissection and decided, “That’s not for me.” It was then that he settled on law school.

In 1938, George graduated with his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. But it wasn’t until 1957 that he joined the national Blue Cross Association as in-house legal counsel. Oddly enough, it was George’s friend who first applied for the open position, but when he was interviewed, instead suggested George for the job. It was as simple as that. George joined the Blue Cross Association as Assistant Secretary and House Counsel, and when he retired from his post in1981, he had moved his way up to Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

As a senior officer of the Blue Cross Association in 1965, George proudly remembers that he had a hand in drafting Medicare and one of the biggest programs in U.S. history, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Not surprisingly, George counts this among his proudest accomplishments throughout his 100 years. He remembers the hard work that he and his team put into it, and the seemingly endless months of drafting and redrafting of the bills. “Few people know that in the first draft of Medicare there was only supposed to be one unit. But AMA (American Medical Association) opposed it. They wanted two parts – Part A and Part B, which is what we have today.”

When reminiscing on these times, Florence instead remembers their silver bowl – a “gift of forbearance” given by the Blue Cross Association (BCA) to the wives and families of those involved. “The country got Medicare and I got a silver bowl,” Florence jokes as she pulls the bowl out from her kitchen cabinet. Engraved, it reads, “In Grateful Recognition of Your Months of Forbearance – BCA, 7–1–66.” While she jokes, Florence has a constant smile as she listens to George talk about this piece of their history.

Capture2Even outside of his involvement with Blue Cross, George never seemed to experience a dull moment in his life. When he was a toddler, he participated in a “baby beauty contest.” When he was 20, he met Florence over the back fence of his parents’ home in Brooklyn – she was 17, attending college at Adelphi, and visiting relatives next door. One rainy day, Florence’s aunt asked George to drive her to the subway, but he instead drove her home, and the rest was history when they were married on April 21, 1940.

Back in 1938, George’s first job out of law school paid him only $10 per week. After he passed the bar exam, he graduated to $25 per week, which is when he and Florence were married. They lived in a Brooklyn apartment that cost them $58 per month. At that time, Florence had just passed the social service exam and was working for the Child Welfare Bureau. When George was asked about the initial years of his career, Florence instead replies, “Well, he was really interrupted by World War II.”

When war was imminent, George volunteered for the Navy but was rejected due to very poor eyesight. He later volunteered for the Army, but was again rejected. After that, George and Florence were blessed with their first son, James. However, after Pearl Harbor, George was drafted and accepted by the Army for limited duty. On the day that he reported, he was the last man in line selected for limited duty in the U.S. only. Despite that classification, George wound up at the port of embarkation to go overseas and join the 1st Army. “Had I just gotten out of line to go to the bathroom, I wouldn’t have been chosen,” George remembers. But, as luck would have it, or as George calls it, “his dumb luck,” one of his college classmates happened to be one of the ranking officers that day. He took George out of line and rejected him.

The reassignment center then assigned George to serve as Chief Clerk and Legal Advisor to the 4th Service Command Rents and Claims Board at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. While living there, George and Florence had their second son, Richard. But, George’s light-hearted tone quickly changes as he shares that the group of 1,600 men, of which he would have been a part, were involved in the invasion of Normandy. Of those 1,600, an astounding 1,200 lost their lives.

After George was discharged, the family made their way back to New York. It was then that George took a break from law, and worked for his grandfather’s smoking pipe manufacturing firm. After some time, George made his way back into law. He became a member of the Ethical Culture Society of Long Island, New York, where he met the leader, who became his dear friend and eventually led him to the job at Blue Cross. While working for the Blue Cross Association, he was instrumental in the taking over of the Blue Cross Commission from the American Hospital Association. This eventually took the Association from New York to Chicago, and the Heitlers followed suit.

“Chicago is a wonderful city,” Florence says. “You could do and be anything you wanted to. It was also a much more welcoming city for getting involved.” In their time in Chicago, George served on the board of the Chicago Public Library, while Florence spearheaded the efforts of the Citizens Information Service (CIS). She worked with people of all ages, informing them of their rights and eventually gaining a three year government contract. At the end of its contract, the CIS was one of only 12 organizations to receive commendation.

George retired from Blue Cross at the end of 1981, and immediately joined a private practice law firm in New York, where he stayed for only four years. “The nature of the practice changed and I wanted out,” George remembers. This time he retired for good, and it was around the same time that they visited Sarasota with friends. After this visit, they were sold. “There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that we wanted Sarasota,” Florence says. They bought a condo on Longboat Key and split their time between here and a summer home in Southbury, Connecticut.

When George and Florence moved into Plymouth Harbor in 2000, their children made them promise not to sell the condo. They kept that promise, and today, the Heitlers’ sons have bought the condo underneath, expanding the space for their growing family – including the Heitlers’ four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. George and Florence’s motivation and drive continued once they were here at Plymouth Harbor. Together, the two have served on numerous committees and have participated in a laundry list of groups and activities. Florence has served as the Chair of the Plymouth Harbor Dining Committee and as Secretary of the Residents Association.

George served as Colony Director for five years, and prides himself on leading the Smith Care Center monthly birthday bash, the low vision support group, and Plymouth Harbor sing-alongs. George has been passionate about singing all throughout his life, running numerous choral groups, and play acting as a member of the Plymouth Harbor Players. The two also make it a point to stay active, playing bridge and only recently giving up tennis – Florence played tennis for 90 years of her life, and George played up until a few months ago, retiring at the age of 99 and a half.

Outside of Plymouth Harbor, George brings the joy of these sing-alongs to other continuing care retirement communities in the Sarasota and Manatee areas. The list of their contributions and involvement in the community throughout their lifetime is almost endless, but to name a few, the Chicago Henry Booth House, Heritage Village Master Association, The Ethical Culture Societies of Chicago and Long Island, the Law Committee of the American Ethical Union, and board member and vice president of the Democratic Club of Longboat Key.

As you would expect, George places an enormous emphasis on the importance of ethics, admiring Abraham Lincoln as much today as he did as a child. The tradition even carries on with his family, as each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild that ever played Abraham Lincoln in a school play uses the top hat that George wore on his wedding day. While 2015 has blessed the Heitlers with numerous highlights this year – George’s 100th birthday, Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary, and the Heitler’s 75th wedding anniversary – it still has one more milestone in store for this couple. This coming November, on the day after Thanksgiving, George and Florence will celebrate their 15th anniversary of living here at Plymouth Harbor.

It’s hard to beat a year like 2015, with so many exciting and noteworthy moments, but if anyone can do it, it’s George Heitler. Happy birthday, George! Thank you for sharing your 100 inspiring years with us. We look forward to seeing what 2016 holds.