BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- George Kooluris has been driving members of Bronxville's Gramatan Village to appointments for three years. The path that took him there took a lifetime to develop.
Kooluris, who retired after a long career in the health and consumer products industry, is a long-time car and driving aficionado. As a boy, he also spent his summer with his grandmother. "I learned a long time ago," Kooluris said, "that with age comes wisdom."
So with time on his hands and happiness in his heart, Kooluris transports Gramatan Village members everywhere. His passion for cars and commitment to community make his volunteerism for Gramatan extremely rewarding.
"I'lll take them to medical appointments, shopping, and I recently took a woman to see her sister," he said. "Gramatan Village has some wonderful outings and affairs for it members ... visits to museums, art shows and great restaurants."
Kooluris enjoys driving Gramatan members for several reasons. "I consider the people I drive to be the greatest generation," he said. "There's a spirit and honesty about them that is just terrific. They share stories about World War II, the Korean War plus both the best of times and hard times that are an important part of history. I enjoy it very much."
Driving also satisfies Kooluris' pleasure to drive. "I've had dozens and dozens of cars in my lifetime," Kooluris said. "It has been a blessing, a curse and a passion."
His love for cars dates back to when his grandfather won a car in an Irish sweepstakes. His uncle had a candy apple red 1949 Mercury convertible -- he rigged it so that it shot out flames, Kooluris said -- and his father won a 1967 Cadillac in a raffle. "My sons and grandsons are into it now," he said. "My wife has little interest in it though she is a great driver herself. We all have our own thing. Mine is cars. In my man cave I have over 25 car models, sculptures, dioramas and different automobile memorabilia."
Kooluris said one of his current cars is a Cooper Mini, and he belongs to a club for owners of the mark. "I'm the oldest by about 25 years but we have great fun," said Kooluris, who also has classic cars that he takes to local shows. He drove his 1934 Ford hot rod named "Aqua Belle" in the Bronxville Memorial Day parade this year.
While Kooluris enjoys driving and cars, sharing time with seniors is a very rewarding part of Kooluris' retirement.
"Sometimes all they want is somebody to talk to and I enjoy listening to what they have to say and share," he said. "The time in the car is special for each of us. I get a chance to hear great stories. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. I hope that someday, somebody does the same for me."