World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday at NJ hospital where he volunteers

TEANECK, NJ (PIX11) -- Herand Kafafian has seen plenty in his lifetime.

A World War II veteran, the Oradell resident is a Purple Heart recipient and on Wednesday, he was honored for his latest accomplishment. Kafafian turned 100 years old.

The centenarian celebrated with family members and co-workers at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ where he has volunteered in the facility’s gift shop for the past 15 years.

Many credit the part-time gig with keeping him going all these years.

“The visitors – they walk behind the register just to give him a hug because a lot of people know him,” Pat Finnegan, the gift shop’s manager, told PIX11 News. “All the employees know him, all the volunteers want to feed him food – they want to see him well.”

According to his family, this hometown hero, who is one of the few WWII veterans still alive, shows no signs of slowing down.

“He still cooks at 100 years old,” his daughter Karen O’Mealy said. “He still makes his own dinner but sometimes we take dinner over but he cooks.”

The grandfather of three is the hospital’s oldest, active volunteer. He tells PIX11 his claustrophobia is one of the reasons why he’s still kicking.

“By golly, I am scared as the devil to get locked up in a box six feet underground with a pile of salt on me,” Kafafian told reporters, receiving a laugh from family and friends around him.