On the Cover: Lori Hershey and Luke Pentacoff

PHOTO BY KEITH BETTERLEYThree years ago, Lori Hershey made a decision that epitomizes both the carefree attitude and the maturity of someone from the boomer generation. She packed up her possessions and left northern Virginia to move to Brevard County. 

“Sometimes life is short and you’ve got to follow your heart,’’ said the 58-year-old native of Oklahoma City who had lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years. “I didn’t have children and I didn’t have family in northern Virginia. It was easy for me to make the break.’’ 

In 2016, when Hershey knew for sure that Brevard County was where she wanted to be, she decided to build a house in Rockledge rather than buy an existing home from a realtor. She had never owned her own house. 

“I found building a house to be both exciting and frustrating,’’ said Hershey, who shares the honor of being a cover model for the 2017 Boomer Guide with her boyfriend Luke Pentacoff. “I found it to be fun picking out the colors, choosing the cabinets and the granite counters. Northern Virginia was too expensive and congested. I always felt something was missing. I always had a love of the beach and warm weather. I did not know a soul down here and I never looked back.’’ 

Hershey, who has continued working as a senior manager for post sales operations for VOIP, a deliverer of voice communications and multimedia, met Pentacoff on Match.com. 

“I hadn’t done that before,’’ Hershey said. “Luke was both my first and last. I hadn’t gone out with anyone else on Match.com.’’ 

Pentacoff, who just turned 59 this month, might have one more military-related mission to accomplish before he terminates that chapter in his life. While he was in the Army for a little more than seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he trained to become an explosive detector canine handler. Through the years, he has gone to both Iraq and Afghanistan several times as a subcontractor in his specialty. 

“I’ve been a lazy bum just going to the beach and surfing for more than a year now,’’ joked Pentacoff, who graduated from high school in San Jose, Calif. and has lived in several states. “I want to go back to the embassy in Baghdad, but the paperwork is a nightmare.’’ 

Pentacoff has trained dogs ranging in size from Brittany Spaniels to Labradors to Bouvier des Flandres. He says German Shepherds and the Belgian Malinois are the most effective in his field. 

“The dogs have to recognize 21 different explosive smells,’’ Pentacoff said. “Their olfactory sense is 4,000 times greater than that of a human. They can find stuff that’s been buried in places that you can’t believe and more than 90 days old.’’ 

Many old soldiers don’t have fond memories of their drill sergeants. Pentacoff credits his drill sergeant with steering him to the field after a simple chalkboard request. 

“San Antonio and Lackland Air Force Base was the mecca of the canine world,’’ Pentacoff said. “The ATF, DEA and Border Patrol all use dogs from there. There’s not a whole lot of dog handlers. They’re always looking for them.’’