Lake Zurich man celebrates 100th birthday

  • Howard Corey, center, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, celebrates his 100th birthday with his family Wednesday.

    Howard Corey, center, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, celebrates his 100th birthday with his family Wednesday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Howard Corey, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, gets a kiss from his daughters, Susan Smith, left, and Phyllis Beasley, both of Buffalo Grove, before he celebrates his 100th birthday with his family Wednesday in Lake Zurich. Corey and his daughters have all had their full COVID-19 vaccinations.

    Howard Corey, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, gets a kiss from his daughters, Susan Smith, left, and Phyllis Beasley, both of Buffalo Grove, before he celebrates his 100th birthday with his family Wednesday in Lake Zurich. Corey and his daughters have all had their full COVID-19 vaccinations. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Howard Corey, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, smiles as his family shows up to celebrate his 100th birthday Wednesday in Lake Zurich.

    Howard Corey, a resident at Azpira Place of Lake Zurich, smiles as his family shows up to celebrate his 100th birthday Wednesday in Lake Zurich. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/10/2021 6:20 PM

Blustery winds kept Howard Corey on his toes Wednesday as he celebrated his 100th birthday with his family outside Azpira Place of Lake Zurich.

A large group of nearly 30 family members arrived to sing to Corey and wish him well.

 

Many of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren carried balloons, signs and gifts for Corey, who couldn't stop smiling.

"I am a happy camper," he said, crediting his good mood to a recent COVID vaccination and his birthday.

During the past year, at age 99, Corey has learned how to Zoom with the best of them. It's how he keeps up with his brood of 35 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Now that he's fully vaccinated, he was able to celebrate his 100th birthday with an outdoor parade of family members, followed by a socially distanced indoor party with birthday cake and a toast with Azpira Place friends and team members.

Corey shared how life events from experiencing the "Roaring Twenties," the Great Depression and World War II to becoming a successful businessman and raising a family helped him sail through the COVID-19 pandemic and continue enjoying life.

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He said his family is his greatest legacy.

Corey was born March 10, 1921, in Chicago. He remembers visiting speak-easies in Chicago when he was 10. He met his wife, Lillian, in high school, volunteered for the Army in World War II and worked for the University of Chicago on the atomic bomb project.

"I worked in procurement and whatever the professors needed, from $1 to $1 million, I got it," Corey said. "But once the bomb dropped, I was out of a job."

Opportunity continued to knock. He went to work for Oxford Electric Company, where he started in purchasing and rose to president over 25 years.

Corey left to be a sales representative in the Midwest, where he said he accumulated a nice family nest egg and honed his golf game over the next 45 years.

"Lillian and I built a gorgeous home in Buffalo Grove where we raised our family," said Corey, who was also a longtime Skokie resident.

His positive outlook, he said, is likely due to 66 years of happy marriage, family, close friends, and his love of good food and drink.

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