WWII veteran recovers from coronavirus just in time for 104th birthday: ‘I made it’

The WWII veteran recovered from coronavirus just in time for his 104th birthday. His family called him “resilient.” (KOIN)

A “resilient” 104-year-old man who lived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II has now recovered from the coronavirus. William “Bill” Lapschies contracted the virus at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Oregon, CBS affiliate KOIN reports. He first started showing symptoms on March 5 and been isolated in his room, but as of this week, he is considered recovered from COVID-19.

Lapschies recovered just in time for his birthday, his family said. On Wednesday, Lapschies’ family surprised him at the veterans’ home for a unique celebration. Since visitors aren’t allowed inside at this time, they had a social-distancing party outside.

This isn’t exactly how his family wanted to celebrate, his daughter Carolee Brown said. “We celebrated his 101 and had over 200 people,” she told KOIN. “But we’re so thrilled he’s recovered from this and we just had to do something for him.”

Brown said her father was “very, very sick,” and the doctors said he might not make it. His son-in-law, Jim Brown, called him “pretty resilient,” noting that Lapschies lived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, and a couple of major recessions.

Lapschies was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during World War II, his family said. Now, his family thinks he must be one of the oldest people to recover from virus.

“His smile, I wish you could have seen it, that mask covers it but his smile is absolutely contagious,” one of his six great-grandchildren, Jamie Yutzie, told KOIN. Lapschies also has two grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren, who can’t wait to hug him again, KOIN reports.

Lapschies’ family surprised him outside the veterans’ home holding signs and staying 6 feet away since they have to practice social-distancing.

They’re also hoping to take him out for a drive so he can see the river and the mountains again.

The family thanked the staff at the veteran’s home, where 15 residents have tested positive for coronavirus, and two have passed away, according to KOIN.

Lapschies’ family said they couldn’t have asked for more kindness or care for him during this difficult time.”We hope that this will inspire some of the other people that are going through this,” Brown said. “And we’re really excited and looking forward to 105.”

At his 104th birthday party, KOIN asked Lapschies how he felt to reach that milestone. “Pretty good. I made it,” Lapschies said. He then paused and added, “Good for a few more.”

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