Arthur Seidman epitomizes perseverance. Regardless of life’s circumstances — the loss of his parents at an early age, serving on the front lines during World War II — he has always moved forward.
He says life is full of surprises and has had more than his share.
“He is a wonderful role model,” said Jane Krakauer, Mr. Seidman’s daughter. “He has had some bad things happen to him, which can happen to everybody. And he has been able to reinvent himself through it. He is very inspirational for people, young and old.”
Mr. Seidman has been a motivating force at Northwell Health, having volunteered in North Shore University Hospital’s surgical waiting room for 23 years and at the Monter Cancer Center since it opened in 2006.
In total, he has accumulated more than 15,500 hours at both facilities with countless memories of talking to patients and their families, helping them navigate challenging times. He shared some of these memories recently at NSUH celebration of his 102nd birthday.
“Being in this hospital is a labor of love,” he said “It’s something that you want to do. You don’t have to, but you want to. I’d like to continue, as long as they’d let me.
“When I leave the hospital, I can say I did something good for today. Older people should have the wisdom of their years, and we are telling people how we live and how things could be beneficial for them and to them.”
Mr. Seidman never knew his mother. She passed away during the influenza epidemic when he was two.
Drafted into the Army during World War II, he served in Japan, the Philippines and New Guinea. He was a first lieutenant and forward observer, a front-lines or sometimes behind-enemy-lines position responsible for directing artillery and mortar fire onto a target.
“I’ve led a very adventurous life,” he said. “When you live a long time, you thank God the memory is still here. I was in the Army for five years. That, of course, is something we did because the country was at war. I didn’t ask to go, but I thought I was a pretty good soldier.”
Pretty good, indeed. Mr. Seidman’s military career garnered a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Mr. Seidman returned home and found work as a textile salesman in in Manhattan — a career he held into his late 70s. He planted his roots in Great Neck, NY, in 1949 and has built a family there while embracing community life.
Aside from Ms. Krakauer, Mr. Seidman has a son — NSUH obstetrician and gynecologist Steven Seidman, MD — two granddaughters and a grandson who live in Manhattan.
“I was a patient at this hospital in 1953 [the year NSUH opened], passing a kidney stone,” he said. “I’ve lived in this community for a long time and I take pride in giving back and helping people.”
Mr. Seidman can be found at NSUH on Tuesday mornings and at Monter Cancer Center on Wednesdays. His charisma and welcoming personality allow him to build strong connections with patients while relieving their anxiety.
“When I go to the oncology center, I work with people who are getting chemo,” he said. “They appreciate so much that somebody is there that they can relate to and talk to.”
At North Shore, he’s considered part of the team.
“Arthur is someone special,” said Lisa Breiman, director of NSUH volunteer services. “He does what he loves best, which is comforting patients.”
Ms. Breiman said he has also served as a member of the hospital’s auxiliary and as the former chair of the hospital’s car raffle and tribute fund, which have collectively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During his birthday celebration, Mr. Seidman shared his secret to longevity.
“The secret is fast women and hard liquor,” Mr. Siedman quipped. “It’s an expression I picked up in my wild days.”
In all seriousness, Mr. Seidman is full of kindness, which has brought warmth to his family, friends and the patients he visits. He appreciates his family, life and being able to contribute at the hospital and cancer center.
“Andy Warhol once said, ‘Everyone deserves 15 minutes of fame.’ I can say I have outlived the 15 minutes many, many times,” he said. “I honestly treasure the time that I can be here and experience something like this.”