Julius: At 100, he has a number of reasons to feel blessed.
Numbers can mean a lot to someone who turned 100 this year. However, Julius, who prefers the moniker, Jules, doesn’t dwell on the numbers in his life…though they do add up to one terrific story!
The numbers go back to 1914, the year 16-year-old Julius Sr. (Jules’s father), immigrated to the United States from Stuttgart, Germany. The tool-and-die man met and married Johanna in 1919. They had Jules, and lived very well until 1929 when the family, like the country, struggled through the Great Depression.
Jules remembers this number: “Once, my father got a check for $25 for some work he’d done,” he says. With the much-needed money, they bought a holiday turkey, Christmas tree, presents and some essentials. “The check bounced. We had to pay back everything,” says Jules.
After high school graduation, Jules enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1940, where he learned to pilot the Army’s small bomber, twin-engine B-25. While stationed in South Carolina, he was on a double-date and met Doris, or “Dot” as the Southern Belle was known. “I remember exactly what she was wearing —a letter sweater and a blue skirt and bobby socks. She looked like a high school cheerleader. My friend, he got left out in the cold, but I met my wife.”
During their courtship, Jules transferred to Kansas to train pilots to fly the new B-24 long-range bombers and clocked 3,000 hours of airtime. That experience was fraught with moments of peril, as the B-24 was a very difficult plane to fly for the novice aviators. In fact, during World War II, over 13,000 American aviators lost their lives in training accidents.
Jules finished training, married Dot in 1944, and shortly after VE Day had a daughter, Karen, and twin boys, Bob and Phillip. At Dot’s insistence, Jules gave up flying, retired from the Army as lieutenant colonel and went into partnership with his father and brother Arnold. They opened a tool-and-die company, Julius Hof & Sons, in Berkeley Heights, N.J., in 1947. After contracts with Revlon’s manicure division and a specialized surgical equipment business, among others, the company prospered, and eventually was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 1947.
Looking back at the highs and lows of his 100-year story, Jules focuses on the best chapters. He enjoyed a long happy life with Dot, who passed in 2016 at the age of 92. Jules is busy at American House Keene, catching the occasional Swamp Bats baseball game, and lunching with his sons every Saturday. Content with his life and proud of his longevity, Jules credits his mother’s good genes and her positive outlook on life. “She was an optimist,” he says. She lived to age 98.
We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. Our seniors have amazing stories that hold a wealth of wisdom. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.