For 102 years, veteran George Hull has called Frederick home.
“I never expected to live this long,” says the WWII veteran,
who, after more than a century of hard work, true love, and a hero’s
courage, is spending his final days at home under hospice care.
Today, in the house he built with his own two hands nearly 60 years ago,
Hull receives regular visits from a nurse, the local VA staff, hospice
volunteers, and hospice social worker Deborah Pow.
Pow has been helping Hull conduct a “life review,” a reminiscing
process to help hospice patients like Hull look back upon their life and
find peace and meaning. “I love to visit George because he tells
such interesting stories,” says Pow.
Hull graduated in 1930 during the height of the Great Depression, among
one of the first gender-integrated classes at Frederick High School—until
1922, Boys High School and Girls High School were separate. Hull was 24
when he first met his wife Gladys. “The first time I saw her, I
said, ‘Boy, I really fell,’” he says. “I remember
her beauty and kindness the most. I loved her very, very much.”
They were married within two years and settled down to start a family.
Their daughter, Vicki Propps, was only five weeks old when he was drafted
in 1943. Within a year, Hull went from MetLife insurance salesman to rifleman
and landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, after D-Day as an infantry
replacement with the 110th Mountain Division. “To this day I don’t
know how I got up the beach. It’s blank to me,” he says. “I
saw bomber after bomber going over, towing gliders carrying men and equipment
He spent 17 months in France, first as a runner to deliver messages. “They
didn’t have equipment to deliver them, so they put me as a runner.
I passed out a couple times running, and I heard somebody call it battle
fatigue. The next thing I knew I was in a field hospital.” After
that, Hull helped to run a Prisoner of War camp.
“After the war, I knew there was something wrong with me,”
Hull recalls. At the VA, he was treated for PTSD, and even today staff
from the VA visit Hull in his home. Hull’s daughter, Vicki, was
two-and-a-half years old when he returned. He began planning a new home
in Frederick, which he built in 1958 for just $13,000. And he picked up
his job at MetLife, where he worked for the next 34 years.When he retired
in 1975, he began volunteering for the Red Cross as a driver for the bloodmobile.
“I loved people and I loved to volunteer. I worked there for close
to 20 years, volunteering,” he says.
Gladys died 19 years ago after 56 years of marriage, but he is still surrounded
by family, including his daughters, Vicki and Joni, and grandchildren.
“I’m very proud of my family,” he says.Hull is blind
in his left eye and no longer drives. He still misses his wife, but says,
“I made up my mind that I want to be happy as long as I am on this
earth.” “And that’s hospice’s goal, too,” adds Pow.
As part of Hull’s Life Review, Pow is learning more about his life
and helping him answer the question “What was I here for?”
She’s learning about the big things, but the little things, too.
Favorite actor? John Wayne. Favorite TV programs? Hallmark Channel movies
and “Walker Texas Ranger.” Favorite Restaurants? China Garden
and Shamrock in Thurmont.
“Whatever the patient wants, that’s what we respect and work
toward,” says Pow. “We keep him where he wants to be.”
Right there, in the house he built.