Homeland resident lives an eventful life in service to nation and veterans


Susan and Bill Gaylor still enjoying Valentines Day through 59 years of marriage.

The helicopter engine-fault light came on, and Crew Chief Bill Gaylor directed the pilot to land. A vast field opened up below. But when the craft hit the ground, a frantic U.S. Park Ranger drove up, insisting that they couldn’t land there.

“The hell I won’t,” said Bill. And that was how he came to make an emergency landing at Gettysburg National Military Park, on the hallowed ground of Pickett’s charge.

Homeland resident Bill Gaylor has lived a colorful life, driven by a talent for mechanics and a love of country and his fellow veterans. It follows a line from the 38th parallel during the Korean War, to crewing helicopter flights, to ensuring that every Dauphin County veteran gets a funeral with military honors.

Bill and his wife, Susan, will celebrate 59 years of marriage and a loving family that includes three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Susan, who does not live at Homeland, said she appreciates the care her husband receives.

“Homeland is well-kept,” says Susan. “Everything’s always clean. I feel he’s well taken care of.”

“I like the people,” adds Bill.

Born in Hazelton, Bill joined the Army after graduating from high school in 1954 and served in Korea, where he initially drove a truck and then chauffeured officials engaged in the peace talks at Panmunjom. One admiral treated him like a son.

“He wanted to go in style, so they gave him a new car,” Bill recalls. “I’m driving a new car, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m in heaven, driving a brand-new Chevy.’ I mean, I’m still a kid.”

One night, the MPs detained Bill for speeding when the admiral wasn’t in the back seat. When the admiral learned the next morning, he issued an ultimatum.

“If he isn’t out here within two minutes,” the admiral barked, “all of you are going to be in there, and he’s going to be out here laughing at you.”

After three years of Army service, Bill worked at a shop in Lebanon. He soon noticed a pretty young woman who often sat on the front porch of a nearby home. Susan was only 16 and he was 21 when they first met, but Bill won over her skeptical parents and they married after she graduated from high school.

After they married, the couple moved around as Bill worked for business machine companies. Then, at age 40, he took advantage of the military’s call for experienced personnel. He served two years in the Navy Reserve before transferring to the Army National Guard, which led to his going to Fort Indiantown Gap and learning to repair helicopters.

Progressing to in-flight crew chief, he was responsible for ensuring the helicopter was in working order and that loads were evenly distributed.

Bill’s helicopter missions included lowering air conditioning units onto the roof of the Pentagon and lifting lighthouses off eroding Great Lakes beaches.

The mission that ended with the Gettysburg emergency landing started as a test of air defenses for the president’s retreat at Camp David. Luckily, the helicopter was quickly repaired.

Bill had to retire from duty at 60, but that was not the end of his service. He recruited other veterans to form a volunteer honor guard that provides military ceremonies at about 100 funerals a year.

Members buy their own uniforms and give their time traveling throughout Dauphin County. Any donations go toward supplies such as matching overcoats. Though others took on Bill’s organizing duties recently, he is still considered commander.

“Families would come up to us after funerals and thank us so much,” says Bill. “We’d be hugged and kissed. They were so happy to see that somebody cared that their loved one served.”

Update:  Bill and Susan continue to visit using FaceTime during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are part of an expanding group of loved ones able to visit through FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. These visits are coordinated by our Activities and Social Work teams and are making a difference!

Romance fills the air as Homeland crowns Valentine’s Day King and Queen


Homeland Center’s 2020 Queen and King of Valentines – Colleen and Lester Grotzinger

The Valentine’s Day luncheon guests grew silent as Homeland Center Activities Director Aleisha Connors made her big announcement.

“And the 2020 Valentine’s Day King and Queen are . . .” she paused for dramatic effect, while the crowd performed drum rolls on the tables, “. . . Mr. and Mrs. Grotzinger!”

The luncheon guests cheered while staff placed crowns on Homeland residents Colleen and Lester Grotzinger. Colleen received a beautiful bouquet.

The Sweetheart Lunch is an annual tradition, allowing married couples who are residents and those residents whose spouses live outside of Homeland to share a romantic meal. Floral centerpieces and tablecloths adorned with hearts graced the tables in Homeland Center’s unique 50s-style diner. Over lunch choices catered from Olive Garden, guests exchanged memories and kisses.

The Grotzingers were chosen King and Queen by a vote of Homeland residents and staff. Among the couples attending the Sweetheart Lunch, they had the longest marriage.

“In July, it’s 69 years,” said Lester.

The two were high school sweethearts who met in their hometown of Renovo, in northcentral Pennsylvania. They married in 1951, just after he finished basic training for the Army. She was a teacher and he was a mechanical engineer.

What’s the secret to a long marriage?

“We just always got along,” said Colleen.

Connors organized the luncheon as a way to help residents from all Homeland units to recall treasured memories.

“They get to have a special meal together, just like they’ve always had,” she said.

Mickey (l) and Bob (r) Jostenski

Mickey Jostenski, visiting her husband Bob Jostenski, recalled their longstanding annual tradition of going to Ocean City, New Jersey, for Valentine’s Day and their anniversary in June.

“It was just relaxing,” Mickey said. “It was a way to get out of ‘Dodge.’”

The Jostenskis also shared their love for Homeland. Bob enjoys a full range of activities and recently attended the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

“We went bowling one time,” Bob said, pantomiming a bowling-ball throw. He also unleashes his inner artist through Homeland art classes, and he presented a gift to Mickey – a painting of two wine glasses clinking, with a heart rising between them inscribed, “I love you.”

Hearts and symbols of love were everywhere throughout Homeland. A poster in the elevators reminded everyone to “Let this day be filled with memories and reminders of how much you are loved.”

On the Gathering Room mantel, photographs of Homeland couples – from their wedding days to date — decorated large letters spelling out “LOVE.’’

At the diner, Michael Keane was enjoying the Sweetheart Lunch with his wife, Marian.

“This is very nice,” Michael said.

Like the Grotzingers, the Keanes were high school sweethearts, now married 64 years. Celebrating Valentine’s Day usually meant going out to dinner. Early in their relationship, they went to Hershey regularly to hear the big bands that came to town – and there were some very big names on the lineups.

“Tommy Dorsey,” Michael said. “Harry James. We didn’t appreciate what we had then.”

In the Valentine’s Day spirit, Michael came with a card for Marian. “Love of my life, friend of my heart, my wife,” it read. “A love like ours happens only once in a lifetime.”

He signed it, “All of my love always.”

Homeland quality assurance leader Jim Zorich sees care all around


Jim Zorich out and about in his role for Quality Assurance at Homeland Center

Jim Zorich frequently heard from fellow physical therapists about the high expectations placed on Homeland Center staff. When he started working here, he understood why.

“If you truly care about the residents and everybody that’s involved with Homeland, the work is not hard, and you’re going to enjoy your job,” he says.

That distinction ripples into the lives of residents and their families.

“We focus on meeting the residents’ needs,’’ he says. “There are always activities going on. The nursing staff is always present.’’

Now, Jim Zorich is in a new phase of life. He recently went from physical therapist to Administrative Assistant of Quality Assurance, becoming responsible for upholding Homeland’s renowned quality of care.

Born and raised in the northwestern Pennsylvania town of Warren, early-on Jim saw a chance for a fulfilling career in physical therapy. He graduated from a seven-year doctoral program at Gannon University in Erie.

“Physical therapy is changing and evolving all the time,” he says. “There is constantly research being conducted for evidence-based therapy that will help ease pain and improve strength. There’s never a point where you’ve truly mastered or know it all.”

Jim’s innate passion for helping people became ingrained while in college after undergoing treatments and surgeries for a lifelong, hereditary condition associated with certain cancers.

“I know what it’s like to need help from other people,” Jim says. “After realizing how important life is and how little time we have on earth, I decided I wanted to make a difference.”

While still in college, Jim came to Harrisburg for an internship. There, he met his future wife, Allison, so he returned and found a job with Genesis, a physical therapy provider. Homeland was one of his clients; this led to an offer to work for Homeland HomeHealth, a community outreach program providing a full continuum of in-home, physician-ordered medical treatment.

After more than two years with Homeland HomeHealth, another opportunity came Jim’s way. With his knowledge of operations at many levels, was he interested in overseeing Homeland’s quality assurance?

He transitioned to his new role as Administrative Assistant, Quality Assurance Performance Improvement Educator in mid-2019. He assures strict adherence to quality procedures in nursing, dietary, housekeeping, and maintenance, helping sustain Homeland’s five-star Medicare quality designation.

Delivering quality care, Jim says, takes attention to detail and a listening ear: “Having a good rapport with everybody, you’re able to meet the needs of the residents.’’

He credits his success to his parents, Ronald and Voula Zorich. Both have long worked for Warren General Hospital; Voula as a medical technician and Ronald as imaging manager. It was his parents who urged him and supported him to become an Eagle Scout, even as he played baseball and took AP courses in high school.

“They taught me perseverance, to overcome your challenges in life,” he says. “Everybody encounters adversity. Everyone thinks they’re alone, but we’re all fighting our own battles. That mindset helped me get through my medical issues. It’s something you fight through, deal with when the time comes, and get back to reality.”

Jim enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and weightlifting. He and his wife, Alli, are huge fans of Penn State, her alma mater, and hold football season tickets. Most years, Jim and Alli travel to bowl games, but they didn’t this year because they are embarking on a new venture – parenthood.

Homeland supports Jim and his colleagues through all of life’s journeys, he believes.

“Homeland makes employees feel important and gives them the confidence they need to do their jobs,” he says. “Happier staff leads to happier residents. I know that I’m part of something bigger. At Homeland, it’s not just a job. It’s a community.”