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LIVING

What’s the secret to a

LONG, HAPPY LIFE?

The Gazette asked local seniors over 90 to find out. Here’s what they had to say: COMPILED BY ARLENE KARIDIS

PHOTO BY MICHELLE KUPTZIN

PHOTO BY ZAMIRA DOAR

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT BEHR

HARRY KUPTZIN, 92 Silver Spring For Harry Kuptzin, the secret to a long and happy life is doing what he loves with the people he loves. His happiness stems from the motivation he gets from past experiences. “My wife, Lenore, still with me after 62 years, keeps me going. And my World War II experience does too. I was three years in the Army, including half of that time in France in the Battle of Normandy … and the Battle of the Bulge. After that, I felt I could handle anything the world would throw at me.” Beyond the love of his life and what he learned as a soldier, Kuptzin has other passions that drive him; namely the allure of a good debate and his interest in politics. “I am on oxygen and use a walker, but I still drive to Holiday Park [Multiservice] Senior Center two or three times a week to participate in a discussion group and writing group. I especially like to engage in the topics of politics and economics. I was assistant director of the U.S. Employment Service, part of the Department of Labor. I worked to help develop programs to boost employment in economically depressed areas through the country, and discussing economic inequality is still my passion. I’m still 30 years old in a 92-year-old body when I get involved in the issues. “I also like to get on my computer and read the digital edition ofThe NewYorkTimes. I do this almost every day. “I also set goals for myself in terms of what I would like to be here for. I have two grandchildren going to Princeton; I would like to see them finish up. And I would like to be here for the next state and presidential elections.”

LILA OLIVER ASHER, 92 Chevy Chase Lila Oliver Asher has found richness in life largely through her travel adventures and her art, which has been displayed in galleries as close to home as Silver Spring and as far away as India. “I lost a grown son and two husbands, but having work I enjoy helped keep me going. I was teaching art at Howard University through some of the hard times, and I still work in my home studio ... “With art, there is always something new to create. It has made me happy and wanting to continue living.” Oliver Asher also credits her longevity to her focus on exercising her mind and body. “I go to exercise class three mornings a week. It’s slowly stretching and moving to keep flexible and exercising with weights to keep your bones strong. “My art studio is on the third floor of my home, so I do a lot of climbing stairs and that keeps you stronger. It’s my happy place. It’s where I concentrate on the one thing I enjoy, and I think this is good for the mind.” Oliver Asher’s adventures traveling abroad have added much to her life. “I went around the world doing my art and seeing how people taught art. Now I don’t travel as far, though I did a cruise last year on the Danube river in Europe.That was just for pleasure. I went with my daughter and son-in-law. And in previous years, I went with my husband to do watercolors.These experiences and staying busy doing whatever you love is important all your life.”

ROBERT BEHR, 91 Gaithersburg Robert Behr said he lives a long, happy life because of good health, his determination to be here to care for his wife and his community involvements. “My wife, Marie, and I depend on each other. It’s the most important incentive I have to lead the life I am leading. Simply, she needs me, and I need her.We take care of each other. “My health is pure luck, but eating properly and exercising help. I go to the gym four times a week. I walk 3 miles on a treadmill in 55 minutes.” Then there is Behr’s volunteer work. “I volunteer at Shady Grove [Adventist] Hospital in the ER. And, I volunteer at the Holocaust museum inWashington, D.C. I translate German to English for the visitors, and I answer a lot of their questions. I am a Holocaust survivor, so I tell them about what it was like living through it. I also give speeches to college students and high school students who visit the museum and I go to schools and talk about living through the Holocaust. “This has been meaningful to me because survivors won’t be [around] much longer; we are all in our 80s and 90s, and it is rewarding to be involved in educating curious, interested visitors.” Behr finds as much pleasure in the passions he shares with his wife. “We are both avid readers and go regularly to the library and just sit and read together.And we go on trips sponsored by the Gaithersburg [Upcounty] Senior Center, like the Bavarian Inn inWestVirginia.”

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Gazette SENIORS | January 2014

Gazette.Net


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