A Vision of Aging

  • Comments (0)
  • Email
  • ShareThis
  • Print
  • Text Size A A A

Hank Blum / Photograph by Heather Clayton Colangelo

By Heather Clayton Colangelo, adapted from a story written for Exceeding Expectations, a project of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at the Mailman School of Public Health. Exceeding Expectations, led by Mailman professor Ruth Finkelstein and Dorian Block ’07JRN, follows twenty older New Yorkers over the course of a year.

It is the first week of 2015, and eighty-four-year-old Hank Blum is officially retired. He’s said that before.

His wife of forty-one years, Patti, has thrown him three retirement parties, one for each of the times he packed away his phoropter, bid his colleagues goodbye, and closed the door to his optometry practice, presumably for the last time.

“I didn’t have the nerve to say we were having another retirement party,” says Patti.

Hank is OK skipping the fuss, and a touch superstitious anyway.

“I said, don’t make one this time. Maybe it will stick.”

Hank has worked for six decades as an optometrist in New York City. For most of those years, he commuted by the 5 or 6 train from his Upper East Side apartment to his office in the Bronx. His business, Henry Blum Optometrist and Associates, on Southern Boulevard, served tens of thousands of people and was one source of stability in a neighborhood where properties sat vacant for years.

Hank deeply loves his work and particularly enjoyed helping people. “I know there are people out there who can see because of me,” he says. “I never went to work a day in my life.”

  • Email
  • ShareThis
  • Print
Log in with your UNI to post a comment

The best stories wherever you go on the Columbia Magazine App

Maybe next time