2012 Nassau County Senior Citizen of the Year: Herman Eli Soblick
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced that Herman Eli Soblick of Franklin Square has been chosen as Nassau County Senior Citizen of the Year for 2012. The County Executive will present an award to Mr. Soblick at a special event on May 31st at the Garden City Hotel. The Nassau County Office for the Aging expects more than 300 senior citizens to attend this event, which celebrates May as Older Americans Month.
“It is my distinguished pleasure to announce Herman Eli Soblick as Nassau County’s Senior Citizen of the Year,” said County Executive Mangano. “Mr. Soblick, a former high school teacher and Assistant Principal, has spent countless volunteer hours working with and on behalf of our youth and today is a tireless volunteer for his local senior citizen organization. Even more so, Herman is a true patriot who served his nation with honor and continues to serve fellow veterans in need at St. Albans Veterans Hospital. I look forward to presenting the Senior Citizen of the Year award to him during our observance of Older Americans Month.”
Herman Eli Soblick was born in Brooklyn in 1924, the son of a Russian immigrant who had served in World War I. He was drafted into the Army in June 1944, soon after both of his older brothers were also called to serve in World War II, and was sent for basic training in Oregon with the Army’s 70th Division, also known as the “Trailblazers.” Soon after, he joined the “Wildcats” of the 81st Infantry for amphibious training in San Luis Obispo, California, followed by assignment to Hawaii for jungle training. He was one of three in his Company to earn the Expert Infantryman badge. On September 17, 1944 the “Wildcats” invaded Anguar, a small island in the Palau Island chain, and Herman was part of the 2nd wave of this operation. “Anguar has the dubious distinction,” he said, “of being one of only two battlegrounds in the Pacific where American casualties outnumbered the Japanese.” During the Battle of Anguar, he was hit by a piece of shrapnel and later received a Purple Heart for the injury. When the war ended, he was part of the occupation forces that were sent to Honshu to search the villages there for any war-related supplies and equipment. Shortly before his discharge he was promoted to Staff Sergeant.
“The war made a lasting impression on me,” Mr. Soblick recalls. “It was a difficult period of my life, but it gave me the courage and confidence in myself to go to college and earn a degree when I returned home.” Mr. Soblick obtained a bachelor’s degree in education and later a master’s degree in administration from New York University. During this time he also met his future wife, Doris, on a boat ride on the Hudson River, and they married in 1948. Doris and Herman are the proud parents of a daughter who currently lives in Vermont. They spent their first few years together in Brooklyn and then moved to their present home in Franklin Square in 1955.
Mr. Soblick refers to himself as a printer by trade, but his career as an educator began with his first teaching assignment at the NY School of Printing, now known as the High School of Graphic Communication Arts, his alma mater. More than 37 years later he retired in 1987 after serving his last 17 years as Assistant Principal. His volunteer activities also began in earnest during this time. He was involved in both Boy and Girl Scouts and Little League, and tutored and counseled neighborhood children, many of them recent immigrants to this country. He was active with the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, a national youth leadership program, and sought to involve many of his students in their various activities. “I felt it was very important to train them and give them leadership skills,” he said. “After all, these youths were expected to become the leaders of tomorrow.” In 1966 he joined the NYS Association for Vocational Industrial Education Organizations, serving as Vice-President and Treasurer; and also the NYS Occupational Education Teachers’ Association, where he served as President. In 1967 he was appointed to Sewanhaka School District’s Advisory Board for Vocational and Technical Education and served as a board member for 41 years.
Throughout his life Herman Eli Soblick has demonstrated his patriotism and love of country. In addition to being a decorated war veteran, he is a World War II honoree at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, and a member of the Jewish War Veterans. Mr. Soblick is a life member of the American Legion, and in 2002 he received their Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service and Assistance for all that he has done to advance the Legion’s programs and activities. He is a regular visitor to St. Albans Veterans Hospital, bringing gifts for hospitalized veterans. In 1989 he attended a reunion of the “Wildcats,” and was unanimously chosen by the group to be the Reunion Chair for future get-togethers. He coordinated these successful reunions and produced a Bulletin/Newsletter to keep everyone up-to-date, whether or not they were able to attend. For many of the participating children and grandchildren, it was an opportunity to understand their father or grandfather in a new and different way. Altogether they held 15 reunions until diminishing numbers and mobility issues made travel more difficult.