Man Shares Lessons Learned from a Century of Life

By Sarah Glover
|  Sunday, Oct 20, 2013  |  Updated 10:06 PM EDT
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WWII Vet Turning 105, Shares Secrets to a Long Life

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For more than a century, William Mohr has lived life to the fullest. And as he gets set to celebrate another milestone, his 105th birthday next week, he has no intentions of slowing down.

"I wish I could fly an airplane if only for 10 minutes. I would like to do a loopdy-loop a couple of times," Mohr said.

Mohr is a living history book and the second oldest living World War II veteran.

The Hatboro, Pa. man still lives with his wife Josephine, 96, in the same house he built 65 years ago. The two lovebirds have four children and two grandchildren and sing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" regularly. The two head out to eat every week and Josie, as she likes to be called, makes it her routine to get to bingo.

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"She still smiles at me," said Mohr, while talking about his wife. "All the arguments we had in the past went away when father time passed." 

Today, the Mohrs will renew their vows as they celebrate 70 years of marriage at a party at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm.

Josie looks back on the man she met seven decades ago and says his most redeeming quality and 'the secret' to his long life has been patience.

"I love him and I thought he was a great man when I met him, and handsome," said Josie. "I have to have a handsome man."

Asked how she kept her man all these years, Josie said it was her homemade spaghetti sauce.

The couple wrote vows they plan to exchange during the ceremony.

"I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you. Thank you for chosing me to be your husband," will be William's part.

Josie follows up with: "I love you for not only what you have made of yourself and for what you have made of me by being yourself."

Jodie Hartshorne, 63, is the couple's daughter and her parents' caregiver. She lives in Telford and visits them every day in addition to around-the-clock nursing care. Hartshorne said her father has vivid memories of the war. He helped liberate Dakow, a concentration camp in Germany, and served in North Africa, Italy and Southern France. 

William Mohr, left, and his twin brother Joe.

"He’s lived through a lot of hard times," said Hartshorne. "When my dad was in 8th grade, he won a full scholarship to St. Joe’s Preparatory School in the 1920s. It meant a lot to him. He had a speech impediment and he only finished two years of high school."

Being a high school dropout and orphaned child were just a few challenges that Mohr dealt with at a young age.

He went on to rise above the life's bumps in the road. Mohr had a landscaping business with his twin brother Joe (pictured at right). William retired at age 63, but knew his work life wasn't over.

He applied for a factory job and worked there for 30 years, retiring a second time at age 93. 

He became a poet and was known for his writing ability earning an unofficial title of poet laurete at the machine shop. He wrote his first book of poetry at age 90.

"These stories don’t even seem real. People think I make them up," said Hartshorne.

They love being together, which is plain to see. The Mohrs are a testament to the benefits of having a soulmate with you in the golden years.

"We have been really fortunate that my parents have been able to age in place. Most people their age would be in nursing homes. I have worked extremely hard with the help of the state and other people," said Hartshorne.

"They thrive if they can stay in their own home and be taken care of. This is a critical issue in America, how to take care of the aging population."

The Mohr's extended family was concerned by the government shutdown and worried about veterans benefits. But, the Mohrs' benefits ended up not being affected. 

When William turned 100-years-old, he shared with his family that the one regret he had in life was not finishing high school due to family circumstances.

In addition to celebrating 105 years of life and 70 years of marriage, St. Joseph's Preparatory School will bestow upon him a high school diploma at his birthday, anniversary and graduation party. 

Not done with traveling, the loyal Phillies fan said he wants to go back and visit Ireland. His daugher, however, is still working to figure out how to make that happen.

Still, it's pretty amazing to kick one of the last items off your bucket list at 105.


Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, sarah.glover@nbcuni.com or follow @skyphoto on Twitter. 

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