We love our residents! They fill our halls (and hearts) with their vibrance, wisdom and humor. They bring cherished Jewish traditions, rich personal stories, and unique talents to The Selfhelp Home – keeping our community fresh & active. The delightful mix of artistry, music, professional careers, and humor cultivate an uplifting environment at our active senior residential living community. While the residents are connected through their Jewish roots, everyone’s story is unique.
In today’s blog we’re grateful to showcase three of our talented residents: Peggy Lipschutz, Bill Kaplan and Bob Cohen.
Peggy Lipschutz, Artistic Activist
We are honored to have such an artist extraordinaire living at The Selfhelp Home! Peggy began painting in high school. She was greatly encouraged by one of her teachers to create a career as a painter. Peggy painted full time until she and her husband started their family. After raising her three kids, Peggy returned to her art and began to enjoy true recognition for her work. Her beautiful masterpieces deeply reflected her talent, passion for color, and expressed society’s continual shift in culture and attitude. Peggy has been called a “True Painter-for-the-People.”
Her work has been dedicated to reflecting that life is not always pretty and she strives to reflect the struggle for a better world for all people. Therefore, her pieces are sometimes considered dark and contemplative although she jokes and says her later work is “much lighter”.
Peggy enjoys trips to the Chicago Art Institute and viewing the Impressionists exhibits. At The Selfhelp Home, she has an easel set up in her apartment to paint and draw when she feels creative. Every stroke counts. Artistic expression has always filled a very special place in Peggy’s heart. While natural aging has slowed down her ability to paint regularly, her mind continues to be inspired by magazines and Renee who teaches Tai Chi at the home. Renee is also an artist – she’s shown Peggy new markers with brush tips and colored pencils that make painting & drawing easier for shaky hands.
Recently, Peggy celebrated her 100th birthday with a memorable show titled, “Strong, Beautiful and True” planned by her dear friend, Rebecca. The event showcased her activist artistry through a musical journey. She has been blessed with a passionate life full of family, friends and artistic talent. To see the musical celebration: http://www.peggylipschutz.com/concert
Bill Kaplan, Extraordinary Musician
“When music is part of your soul, it runs throughout your blood. There are no words to describe the feeling,” stated Bill. He fell in love with music when he was a little boy. His two older brothers and mother understood his special ability and passion to play instruments. During the Great Depression, his mom introduced him to the harmonica and the accordion. He played the accordion as a freelance musician in many clubs and parties. While in high school, Bill’s focus intensified when he took on the clarinet. He excelled studying music at the University of Wisconsin. However, Bill wanted to expand his talents further and auditioned for the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York. Juilliard recognized Bill’s special talents and welcomed him into their program. This was a dream come true for Bill! He decided he needed to stand out among all the clarinet players and learned how to play the bassoon – a unique, challenging instrument.
His impressive resume highlighted his talents as an extra for the New York Phil Harmonic, 92nd Street YMCA and eventually joining the renowned Fort Sheridan Band which kept him out of the Korean war. Later on, the GI Bill allowed him to complete his graduate work at the University of Chicago where he met his beloved wife. They fell in love immediately and raised a family together. Bill’s passion for music opened countless opportunities for freelance gigs with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Boston Pops. As a professor at Chicago’s Circle Campus, he delighted students for over 30 years!
Following his passion empowered Bill to live a life without regrets. While he retired in his early 70’s, today he continues to play classical music using his very own piano in his apartment! He enjoys playing tunes for himself as well as entertains our residents with monthly sing-a-longs alongside friend Howard Weiss!
Bob Cohen, Jovial Comedian
Bob found humor when he was a very young boy living in the Bronx, NY. Comedy connected him to people and he landed on the stage as a standup comic when he was 17 years old! He entertained guests at parties, proms and local clubs. Unfortunately, Bob realized comedy would be a tough way to make a living. Bob abandoned that path early on when he realized that earning money was vital for supporting his future family. Bob’s face lights up as he shares the story of how he met his wife decades ago in a bar in New York City. The two met when he asked her to be his partner for Limbo – it only took 13 dates for Bob to know she would be his partner in life for over 65 years! They raised 2 wonderful kids and loved taking them on family trips. Bob fully enjoyed his career as a sales rep for a consolidated cigar company. However, he never stopped telling jokes and jotting them down in his joke book over the years.
During lunch at The Selfhelp Home, he delights fellow residents with his colorful jokes. Recently, he shared this one: “A couple who had been married for 25 years were fighting nonstop…quite ugly. The husband said, “Enough is enough. We loved each other so much a long time ago, went to shows, enjoyed great sex…Let’s go back to New York for a second honeymoon.” The wife agreed. When they got up to the room on the 10th floor, the wife hated the room. It was filthy, there were bugs, she screamed, “I’m going to jump out of the window… I hate this. I’m going to jump out of the window.” The husband went down to talk to the manager. He tells the manager how his wife hates him and wants to jump out of the window. He begins crying. The manager says, “Why are you crying?” Husband says, “I can’t open the window!”
Bob enjoys making people laugh, “it keeps us young,” he said. He keeps his joke book around for entertaining visitors, especially the children.