World War II veteran celebrates 90th birthday
By Danielle Neveles Correspondent February 17, 2013 9:02PM
Carol Martin and Norman Lasman dancing to trumpet playing.
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:38AM
He was scheduled to arrive at 7 p.m., and she wouldn’t have missed his party for anything.
Kim Sullivan met him on the phone back in 1981. He’d call to speak to her boss and they’d chat.
One day, she told him her younger sister needed a job and without meeting her, he offered her a job that day.
That’s the type of man, Norman Lasman, 90, is.
His family describes him as the sweetest, most remarkable man you’d ever meet.
That’s why Carol Martin, his partner of more than 30 years, wanted his birthday to be so special.
She’d chosen 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, one of their favorites, as the venue.
He thought it’d just be a small family dinner Saturday. But when he walked upstairs to the VIP room and heard “SURPRISE!” he knew it was more.
At the sight of more than 20 of his loved ones, he raised his hands in the air and smiled. He hugged each guest and kissed their cheeks.
“Today, I feel like the luckiest man in the world,” he said.
His family is very important to him. His daughter, Janis Shapiro, remembers him always supporting her even when she brought home an F.
“My dad believed that as long as you worked hard, it doesn’t matter if you failed,” Shapiro said.
For years, Shapiro only knew him as dad. But a few years ago, she learned about the USS Bunker Hill.
Two kamikazes hit his USS Bunker Hill in Okinawa in 1945. He was in the engine room unconscious and had to be dragged out. He thought he was dead. The carbon monoxide poisoning left him with no memory of how he survived.
After attending Maxwell Kennedy’s “Danger’s Hour” book reading, Lasman started to remember more about the USS Bunker Hill.
He joined Honor Flight Chicago, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring World War II veterans. The organization gave him the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C., and view the memorial. Mike Mahoney, a member, says that Lasman is the official Honor Flight Chicago spokesperson.
“He’s such a great guy,” Mahoney said. “Honestly, he’s a hero.”
Mahoney was among family and friends at the birthday celebration.