WWII veteran reflects on life during celebration for 105th birthday

EAST MEADOW, Long Island (WABC) -- There was a special birthday celebration on Long Island for a man who has lived through two pandemics, served in a war and has a lot of life lessons under his belt.

Dr. Sam Grochow is an inspiration. He's six days away from turning 105 years old and he's keeping track - it's one of the ways he stays mentally alert.

"Some people count sheep before sleep, I do the multiplication tables," Grochow said.

And when it comes to the numbers, he was born in 1916 in Jersey City and graduated from NYU dental school in 1941.

He married Frances the following year and then shipped off to war.

"I was in Italy during the second World War for two years and when I came back my wife said 'how come you didn't learn to speak Italian' and I said very simply 'I didn't shack up with an Italian girl,'" he said.

His humor is infectious and his memories are still fresh from as far back as first grade.

"My mother took me to school and she turned to leave and I grabbed her dress and I yelled don't leave me don't leave me, I can still picture that," Grochow said.



"I still call him for advice, financial and otherwise, and you get stuff that's right on the point, the fact that he's so sharp mentally is what's great," his son Robert Grochow said.

And on Friday there was a celebration at the Bristal Senior Living Center in East Meadow where Dr. Sam has been living for 10 years.

Friday's was the first of three parties, the next will be on his official birthday on the 12th and then another after that including 25 relatives who are coming in from a variety of states -- all wanting to be a part of the special milestone.

"My only regret is my wife couldn't be here, otherwise I'm very satisfied with everything in life," Grochow said.

His wife also lived at the Bristal until she died seven years ago. Grochow takes comfort in what she told him.

"I would say to her 'I wonder how long I'll live,' and her answer was 'you're such a good person, God won't let you suffer... you're just going to drop dead,'" he said.

Last year he celebrated a socially distanced birthday and is already looking forward to celebrating next year.

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