Eugene Calman

Eugene Calman believes the secret to a long life is staying active.

At age 88, he is involved with historical societies, the Lion’s Club and Mensa. He’s often in his garage, tinkering and restoring a 90-year-old circus calliope and his collection of antique cars. He devotes lots of time to his three children and two grandchildren.

“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t think about what I have to do today, I think about what I have to do first,” Calman said.

He also attributes his longevity to the American Heart Association. Calman and his wife became familiar with the organization’s mission more than 50 years ago.

While training in the Navy in 1961, Calman was diagnosed with angina pectoris, a pain or discomfort due to coronary heart disease. He had his first heart attack soon after in 1965.

“I was off of work for three months,” he said. “That’s all they could really do for you, besides tell you to lay off the salt and be sure you have a good will.”

Calman said he knew that research saved his life, so he and his wife first started fundraising for the AHA by going around the neighborhood collecting funds.

Unfortunately, Calman’s battles with heart disease were far from over. In 1986, he had a quadruple bypass. After a second heart attack in 2006, he received a defibrillator and pacemaker. He later got a second pacemaker.

“The American Heart Association has made remarkable improvements in the care they can give people with heart disease,” he said. “Open heart surgery wasn’t even possible in 1961, and now it’s commonplace. All these things have come along since I was initially diagnosed with heart disease.”

In addition to being an annual donor for 55 years, Calman recently established a deferred Charitable Gift Annuity with the association. This allows him to defer income from the annuity while still receiving tax relief.

“My main reason for giving is to support the association’s research,” Calman said. “I want to help other people that suffer from heart disease.”