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Herbert Cohen

Home Instead Client’s Husband Returns to Active Lifestyle with CAREGiver Help

herbert-cohen.pngIf and when 91-year-old Herbert says the word, CAREGivers at owner Kelly Hutchison’s award-winning Home Instead Senior Care® franchise in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, will be ready to help him. CAREGiver Leticia Dy and her co-workers already assist Herb’s wife of 64 years, Irene, in their Arlington Heights home where they have lived for the past 52 years. By assisting Irene, Leticia and other CAREGivers are truly helping Herb, too.

Herb is an irrepressible Greatest Generation version of the Energizer Bunny, having served in the military. He worked later in life than most people and then bounced back from an illness that hospitalized him for about 75 days earlier this year. In the workforce, Herb spent 36 successful years in the airline industry and “retired” in 1986 from United Airlines. But at the urging of others, Herb went back to work for 24 more years in logistics with aviation start-ups before retiring for good at age 86.

“I enjoyed what I did, and I worked for a long time, from the 1940s until 2010. I tapered off, working less and less, before I stopped for good. I have great working career memories. During its best years, Midway International Airport in Chicago, where I primarily worked, was the busiest airport in the world,” Herb said. “After I first retired, I got a job offer from a Canadian company with growth promises that never developed. Later, two young fellows with an air freight company needed help with logistics.”

Ironically, a fulfilling airlines career was a fallback position after Herb grew bored of a political appointment position in Boston and tried but later left the restaurant business in which his dad was so successful. “When I decided to try the airline business, I moved to Chicago for a job that made a lot less money than I was making in Boston,” Herb recalled.

“So, I started a new life. One of my lady co-workers introduced me to Irene. She became an American Airlines stewardess and, at that time, they could not be married. We dated, and later we went into a secretive mode and got married. But we kept it quiet so she wouldn’t lose her job.

When she became pregnant, that ended the marriage secrecy. We have four wonderful sons, four wonderful grandchildren and four wonderful great-grandchildren.”

Herb’s character was first openly revealed in 1944 when the patriotic high school graduate took a streetcar to a military recruiting station and tried to enlist on his own at age 17 in his native Boston. After being rejected because he was too young, Herb returned home and persuaded his parents to sign the paperwork so he could join the Navy.

Tongue in cheek, Herb said: “Life was boring after high school graduation because everybody else I knew was in the military.” In a more serious tone, Herb added: “I love this country. I was in the military twice and have two honorable discharges, both times with the Navy. I was on active duty until 1946 and later served in the reserves for eight or nine years while being assigned primarily to the Great Lakes Naval Station.”

Explaining his active duty, Herb said: “I was attached to LST 119, a landing ship tank. My job was in the dynamite division, so we practiced with dynamite. We blew up — cleared — beachheads for the tanks to go ashore. At 17, you don’t think about danger, so you don’t realize a lot of things.” Herb also served at the Whidbey Island Naval Station at Oak Harbor, Washington, and helped move crews to Adak, Alaska, in the Aleutian chain. “Those crews were scouring the Russian coast, which was 200 miles from the U.S. We wanted to see if we could keep an observance of the Russians,” he said.

Herb remained active with military veterans long after his service ended. For more than three years, he served as an American Legion post president. At the insistence of a friend, Herb’s military experience was documented meticulously in 2017 at the Waukegan Courthouse for the Library of Congress. His military service is still important to Herb. “I was in the supermarket and was wearing a Navy baseball cap. Three or people stopped me and thanked me for my service. That meant a lot,” he said.

Discussion of military service shifted into talk of patriotism and the current culture, and Herb made these key observations:

  • “Things have changed dramatically in America, but it is kind of a different world now than it was when I was a young man. I think respect for the men and women who serve in the military has returned to the heights that you saw during World War II and Korea. The military personnel who fought in Vietnam were treated badly when they returned.”

  • “I don’t care where you come from or what job you do, no one is less important than anyone else in America. I get to know my trash collector. He’s important to me. The U.S. should try to set a good example for the rest of the world in the way we treat each other.”

  • “I mostly keep my views to myself. But the controversy surrounding the flag and those things bothers me. The flag is an important symbol, and seeing athletes and others kneel during the national anthem bothers me. It’s an issue of respect.”

While his wife is a Home Instead Senior Care client, Herb also has faced physical challenges. He is a heart disease survivor who had a replacement valve installed 11 years ago (“a pig valve”) and underwent quadruple bypass surgery 10 years ago. For 2½ months this year, he was hospitalized for a suspected blood infection that required 24/7 IV treatments.

“I had a so-called blood disorder that has disappeared. The doctors theorized that I picked up a bug, something I’ve never had before. I am being monitored constantly now. It all started when I wasn’t feeling well and went to the ER. I had pneumonia, so it was a good thing I went in,” Herb explained. “With the blood disorder, a doctor said I needed 24/7 treatments because it was life or death. Irene became a bed mate at the hospital because she was in for two months. Irene has a multiple myeloma, and she is hanging in there. We came home the same day this spring. On Sept. 7, we’ll celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary.”

Praising Home Instead Senior Care, Herb said: “They worked with us as we came home from the hospital. We receive care five days a week now and just need the basics. We’ve had Leticia since we left the hospital, and she has become like family. She knows what we need and does a great job. I am driving again and sometimes pick up groceries.”

Herb added: “I used to be involved in life more, in general, but I’ve slowed a little. I don’t want to leave my wife alone, and I am with her by myself on weekends. We wintered in San Diego for 15 years but have decided to remain here now. I still like to get out and meet people, so I get out and walk on my walker and talk to the neighbors. Having Home Instead helps my wife, which also helps me.”

All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call (847) 690-9825 or apply online at https://www.homeinstead.com/205/home-care-jobs. For further information about Home Instead Senior Care, visit our website at https://www.homeinstead.com/205 .

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