World War II Veteran Returns to Beach at Normandy, Fulfilling Wish of a Lifetime

Brookdale Residents Featured on "NBC's Nightly News"

Apr 30, 2012, 19:07 ET from Brookdale Senior Living

CENTERVILLE, Ohio, April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Russell Taylor, 94-year-old resident at Waterford Retirement Living, in Centerville, is still flying high after being granted his lifelong wish to return to France visiting Paris and the Normandy beach where he landed almost 68 years prior during World War II as a member of the Army Signal Corps. Russell and his wife Odile were able to take in some of their favorite sights and renew their wedding vows after 66 years of marriage, thanks to Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime. The Taylors recently returned home to Centerville after a 10-day visit. The Taylors' Wish of a Lifetime was featured on NBC Nightly News on Monday, April 30.


At the time of Russell's service, he followed General Patton's Third Army from Normandy to Paris, patching up communication lines for the unit all along the way. Once back in Paris, the Army discovered that Russell had worked at IBM in the U.S. As a result, he was sent straight to Eisenhower's headquarters, where he worked in the Machine Records Unit for the next 15 months.

It was there that Russell met Odile, who was a staff translator. Odile lived in Paris, but had to flee from the Germans during the war. She only returned when she was offered the job as a translator. Russell would fix Odile's typewriter every time she had issues with it. Smitten by her almost immediately, Russell asked her out.

A serious romance ensued, and the mayor of Paris married them on September 15, 1945. They spent their honeymoon on the Cannes Riviera. Russell is still singing Odile's praises 66 years later.

"Odile took the sunshine wherever she went," said Russell. "She has always been happy. That's why I married her."

While their romance began in France, their life together took root in the United States, where they started a family. Russell continued to work for IBM, and Odile worked as a French teacher as well as a full-time mother. They lived a full life in the U.S., but they often reminisced of their most romantic days in France. Russell's Wish of a Lifetime was to bid farewell to the place where he fell in love with Odile.

On April 10, Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime sent Russell and Odile back to France. They were joined by the grandson of General Patton, Ben Patton, and Jeremy Bloom. They spent time touring in Paris and then traveled to Normandy to see the American cemetery and the beaches. They had a special ceremony while in Normandy where they renewed their vows after 66 years of marriage. 

In 2010, Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime formed a partnership to provide a helping hand in making some of the dreams of Brookdale's residents come true. To request a wish, residents fill out a wish application explaining an experience they would like to have fulfilled and how that experience relates to one or more dimensions of Brookdale's Optimum Life® platform. Optimum Life cultivates whole-person wellness through fulfillment in the six key dimensions: purposeful, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. Residents at Brookdale Senior Living communities nationwide are invited to share and submit their wishes at For more information about Brookdale, go to

Since the partnership's inception, more than 200 seniors have had their wish granted.


Andrea Turner

(615) 564-8629

SOURCE Brookdale Senior Living