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World War II veteran celebrates his 102nd birthday at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital

Staff member and patient bond over WWII connection

Sidney Wallach 102nd Birthday Party

The year Sidney Wallach was born, construction crews were putting the final touches on the Lincoln Memorial.  Born on February 18, 1922, Wallach turned 102 on February 18.  His care team at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital hosted a birthday celebration for the North Shore resident a few days early.

“I don’t drink or smoke. The halo on my head it pretty tight,” said Wallach. “I eat an egg a day because eggs are the beginning of birth. Everything in an egg is to sustain life. I’m trying to sustain life.”

During Wallach’s visits to Lake Forest Hospital to treat conditions related to his advanced age, patient access specialist Terry Girmscheid has developed a special bond with him. Her father was in the same World War II boot camp as Wallach, and both men went on to build runways during the war.

“The first time I met Sidney he had his World War II cap on. My dad would never go out without his cap. That’s how we started talking,” said Girmscheid. “When I spend time with Sidney, I feel like I have my dad back for a little while.”

Wallach was drafted into the army in 1942 and served through 1946. He received three overseas service bars, one service stripe, a European African and Middle Eastern theater ribbon, an American theatre ribbon, and a Victory medal.

Wallach has lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago for more than 70 years and raised four children there. The former Sears salesman was very active in the community serving as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout Scoutmaster, as well as participating in senior activities at the American Legion Memorial Civic Center.

In a festive room with balloons, staff presented Wallach a cake decorated with World War II planes and a runway like he built in Greenland. Knowing that Wallach loves to wear comfortable hoodies, the Lake Forest Hospital team gifted him his very own Northwestern Medicine zip-up hoodie. 

“World War II veterans are our true warriors.  They fought to the end and never gave up, and that’s how Sidney is now,” said Girmscheid. “He is filled with so much love for life and his family.”