Metro World War II vet celebrates 100th birthday days before Veterans Day

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CAMERON, Mo. -- Ray Parker Sr. blew out his 100th birthday candles surrounded by three generations of his family on Friday. Giving his family and friends another memory to cherish.

"There`s no better way than with great grandchildren, aunts, uncles, sisters, and children," Ray Parker Jr., the eldest of Ray's three children, said.

Parker Sr. raised three children, two sons and one daughter, and was married for over 70 years. Sherry Duley, Ray's daughter, said this years celebration is special.

"I guess it all came together at the right moment didn`t it? My dad is special. It`s just amazing that somebody can live this long," she said.

Ray Sr. enlisted in the United States Army in 1944 and spent most of his time in the Philippines assisting in cleanup efforts after the Japanese occupied the country. After returning from the war, he moved back to St. Joseph, Missouri, started a family, as well as a business. And for a man that's endured a World War and a century on this earth, he is still moving well.

"He is fabulous. His mind is sharp and clear, he knows addresses from back when he was living in St. Joe. He could spit the numbers of those addresses out to you. He broke his hip a year ago and he`s back to walking," Duley said.

Ray's hearing isn't what it used to be and for his birthday his 96-year-old sister was around to help make sure he could hear the messages of love being sent his way.

"You sold Liberty Magazines and got enough coupons to buy your own bike. Oh yeah, I had bought my back with magazine coupons. You bought me and Virgina our winter coats. Yeah, I bought for Christmas... yes, you bought us both an outfit. Mine was a blue skirt," Ray and his sister discussed.

Even though Mr. Parker's hearing has faded, his presence in the family has not.

"I still ask him for advice even yet today. I asked him for advice last week. At 100 years old he still gives me advice and a lot of us would love to be able to do that kind of a thing but not a lot of us can," Rodney Parker, Ray's son, said.

With Veterans Day on Sunday, the Parker family said this year's celebration and significance takes the cake.

"It makes me very proud of our country and proud of what my dad did." Ray Jr. said with tears in his eyes, "It`s just a happy day."

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