The Living Magazines

Hyde Park Living .....Hyde Park, Oakley, Mt. Lookout, O'Bryonville and East Walnut Hills
Wyoming Living
Indian Hill Living
Fort Thomas Living

Monday, December 2, 2019

100 Years and Going Strong: Dick Bozian

World War II Veteran and A Life Well Lived

Dick Bozian is a positive, modest, charismatic 100-year-old community member who says luck is the real reason he has lived this long, adding “I could have died with all the others in World War II. But I was lucky.”

Lucky because after voluntarily enlisting in 1944, General MacArthur gave new directives that kept Dick off the front lines. Dick had a deferment from the draft due to his college degree and a good job at a pharmacy, but he declined it to join his peers fighting in the war and to earn credits in the G.I. Bill of Rights. Dick entered the service as a private, and then attended leadership school followed by Officer candidate school at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. “I had this chance to go to leadership and officer candidate school – but I had not been anywhere. Others had combat service, and I hadn’t.” Dick didn’t realize that the purpose of training Officers in the Medical Administrative Corps at that time was to send them to the front lines in command of Battalion Aid Stations. But, Dick was lucky, as MacArthur spared Dick that experience by claiming in 1944 that only doctors were to be on the front lines (this was a complete reverse in policy, and a decision that is generally regarded by historians as unnecessary since, as Dick described, “wrapping bandages and carrying gurneys doesn’t require a medical degree”).

Dick instead served as an Administrative Officer on the hospital trains, travelling back and forth across the country many, many times ferrying patients. “It was a wonderful experience – I saw troops coming back from the South Pacific and from the European theater.” Dick found the hospital trains to be the most rewarding and enlightening experience of his lifetime, “my father was an orphan immigrant from the Middle East, and here I was making contact with people at every level of society. I had exposure to so much, I had relationships with all types of people – governors, senators, politicians. The service exposed me to everything.”   

One of Dick’s responsibilities on the hospital trains was collecting money from the Officers for meals – 25 cents each. By the end of the coast to coast trip, he would have $50. And while Dick was supposed to deposit the money at the end of the trip, he simply forgot one time, leaving with the money. He returned after the weekend off the train with all the money, but that wasn’t good enough for one supervising Officer who was furious. The Officer filed a complaint, angry with Dick and his seeming lack of concern over the issue, and Dick got in trouble over the incident. The Officer had Dick transferred to a new assignment, and Dick rolled with the punches and did as instructed. Dick’s new assignment was at the General Officers train – that some could say was an upgrade. And one of the very first assignments was, ironically, the angry Officer’s retirement party. Dick laughed “I can still see his face all these years later, ‘YOU, what are YOU doing here?’ It was great.”

The Importance of Being Educated
Dick had always been a bright, curious student growing up in New Jersey. After graduating from high school at age 16, with assistance from the National Youth Administration, Dick earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. Before the war Dick had applied to medical school without success, “you really had to know someone in the school in those days”. But one Friday afternoon after the war and with only 30 days left of service in the army, Dick received a phone call, “Lieutenant Bozian, you still interested in medical school?” Apparently an elderly distant relative of Dick’s was dating a New York State politician, and this couple had influence at Albany Medical College of Union University. Initially, Dick had not heard anything from the school, but a month into the start of the school year, that call came with a last-minute vacancy. It seemed one of the enrolled students, a female (which was rare at that time), had left school because she could not stand the sight of the cadaver. If Dick could be in Albany by Monday morning, the long-coveted opportunity for medical school was his. Dick asked his Sergeant, and he said NO – Dick must serve his 30 additional days. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Dick went above the Sergeant to the Commander in Chief. The Commander was reasonable and demanded that Dick be relieved of the 30 days, wishing him best of luck in medical school.

Dick thrived in medical school, so he took a shot applying for his internship at the prestigious University of Chicago – a top 10 medical school. While Albany Medical College “wasn’t in the same league”, Dick obtained a spot and he did so well that he was also offered a residency at University of Chicago. But he turned it down. Why? Because of Mike.

Marguerite, a.k.a. Mike
Dick met Marguerite “Mike” Wilkinson, a nurse, when she was rinsing out a bed pan at the hospital. The two began dating, but Mike was from the south and not a fan of the brutal Chicago winters. She told Dick, “If we stay in Chicago, I won’t marry you.” Dick replied, “okay, we’ll leave.” The couple married and started their young married life in Manhattan as Dick accepted a residency at New York University’s Bellevue Medical Center instead of University of Chicago.

Dick and Mike loved Manhattan and their $30 per month rent in subsidized housing for young doctors. They would see plays and musicals on Broadway for only $2-$5. In a big city, their neighbors became their community, and they started a family.

While at Bellevue, Dick enjoyed his training in internal medicine and metabolism. He joined the faculty and directed the outpatient clinics while conducting research in lipid metabolism and obesity. And Dick developed an interest in nutrition – which he firmly believed would be the future of medicine, although that didn’t happen for another 40 years, if that, “doctors still don’t know a damn thing about nutrition.”

A Pioneering Professional Career
Dick obtained a fellowship in the graduate program in nutrition and biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, where Mike had earned her degree in nursing, so it was on to Nashville for the Bozian family. Dick spent five years researching vitamins and lipids – this was the time when DNA had just been unraveled. Dick’s research was fruitful and highly valued in the medical community. In fact, Dick’s work on vitamin B12 that was completed at Vanderbilt still serves as the basis for the current Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin B12. While working on his thesis on biochemistry for the essential fatty acid deficiency in rats for his PhD in biochemistry, Dick was offered the job of Associate Professor and head of the Division of Nutrition in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC) for $15,000 a year. The Bozians moved to Cincinnati in 1963.
Dick spent 25 years at UC as a professor, a researcher, and in clinical practice and consultation. Dick was a pioneer in his field – especially with regard to intravenous nutrition. In 1968 a 21-year-old nurse named Sharon had an emergency surgery that left her with only six inches of small intestine. Sharon’s long-term outlook was not good, but then Dick changed medicine and saved her life. Dick created an intravenous nutrition plan that has kept her alive these 50 years, and she was able to birth two children. Today, Sharon is the longest living human maintained on intravenous nightly nutrition. Sharon, now age 71, keeps in touch saying, “I’m only alive because of you, Dr. B!” As a result of his research and knowledge, Dr. B had the opportunity to travel the world giving lectures on vitamins, nutrition, and intravenous nutrition plans, visiting every continent but Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.   
Laughing, Dick explained he retired from UC in 1989, “because I thought I was old!” But he wasn’t done. Dick became involved with SMART Recovery program (Self-Management And Recovery Training - SMART) which Dick described as an addiction treatment program that focuses on a cognitive behavioral approach – without religion. “Your perception is not your reality – so change your perception. Anything that gives you pleasure or avoids or relieves pain or relieves fear or anxiety can be addictive. SMART focuses on a cognitive behavioral change.” SMART Recovery started as a single program and has grown into 20 programs in the region. After working as a pharmacist, a medic, a professor, and a doctor, Dick only retired from this latest career in addiction treatment three years ago.    

Family Ties
Mike, who turned 93 in October, had her own successful career in nursing. She taught nursing education at UC’s College of Nursing for 25 years. She was also recognized as Teacher of the Year at UC. Together Dick and Mike raised five children: Russell, Robin, Jamie, Richie, and Jolie. Sadly, Russell passed away last year at the age of 63. Dick reflected, “I am very proud of my kids – they are very active in the community.” Collectively, five kids led to five grandkids and two great grandkids, all serving our communities as lawyers, community activists, actors, and computer programmers.  

The Five Tenets to a Long Life
When asked “what is the secret to living to 100?” Dick has a quick answer of five key components:
  1. Genetics - Dick’s father lived to age 91 and his brother lived to 89. “Nothing you can do about bad genetics.”
  1. Good nutrition – as a nutritionist, Dick emphasized the importance of nutrition citing the major benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
  1. Psychology – “This is extremely important – if you beat your head against the wall or don’t allow yourself to roll with the punches it isn’t good. Be adaptable – don’t get destroyed by negativity!”
  1. Exercise – it is critical to keep your body moving. Dick attends the Silver Sneakers at Wyoming Rec Center twice a week (the group had a surprise 100th birthday party for Dick in August)!
  1. Luck – “Luck is the most important. I could have ended up on the front lines in the South Pacific. In fact, there are five incidents in my lifetime where I could have died and didn’t. Once Mike and I were in the Yucatan travelling in a rental car when we came upon branches in the road. I got out of the car swearing and yelling, but when I moved the branches, I realized the local people had laid them in the road because there was a volcanic shift and the branches were blocking a cliff. It was luck we hadn’t just driven off.” The week we met with Dick, luck was not on the side of Dick’s beloved Jack Russell Terrier. The furry companion died after having been hit by a car, “you can’t have some pleasures without paying the price for it. It’s part of the ball game.”
Given the secrets to a long life, Dick laughed that the human who lived the longest was Jeanne Caulman, who lived to 122 in Arles, France, “she smoked, drank cheap wine, and ate chocolate every day. But she had good genetics.” Currently the oldest living people are all Japanese and all are 117 years old – five women and one man. One of the items on Dick’s bucket list is to be the longest living veteran of World War II. The oldest currently is 103 years old, so Dick has a lot of living to do!
100 Years in Reflection
As Dick reflected on his long life - and his luck, he summarized a long life of activism and service. “My father, a hardworking immigrant, was a very conservative man. He only voted for a democrat once – FDR. Then he went back.” Laughing, he added, “I was conservative my first 40 years, but I am adaptable, and Nixon was the last republican I voted for.” Emphasizing, you must be open to change.
Dick believes in investing in our youth and our future, “FDR created the GI Bill and the National Youth Administration that enabled me to go to college.” As a result, Dick firmly believes that it is very important to give two years of college for free to all Americans, and he believes youth need to take advantage of opportunities given to them, for some that includes military service.
“Army, the service, it depends on your philosophy, but the service can spread your world. Service is the opportunity for growth. For me it was a fantastic experience and prepping for a career. The army was unbelievable in broadening my world and my world view.” Pulling it all full circle Dick explained, “It would be wonderful if we didn’t need a military. But we do. And I have great respect for the service and my time in the service.”

Friends from his exercise class at the Wyoming Rec Center gathered for a surprise 100th birthday party for Dick.

The potluck party was a surprise to Dick, and his wife Mike joined them at the Civic Center for the celebration along with his exercise instructor Susanna Smith and friends.

Dick Bozian served as an Administrative Officer on the hospital trains during World War II.

No comments:

Post a Comment