Bill Lapschies and his family have a lot to celebrate this year. The Oregon veteran has recovered from Covid-19 and he just celebrated his 104th birthday.
Visitors aren’t allowed inside the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon because of statewide restrictions, but they were able to have a small celebration outside.
Staff brought him out to a patio in a wheelchair on Wednesday and put a blanket and a flag-covered quilt in his lap. His loved ones held signs, waved and blew kisses from a safe distance.
His daughter Carolee Brown told CNN affiliate KOIN that this wasn’t how they had planned to celebrate his big day.
“We celebrated his 101 and had over 200 people. So trying to keep our social distancing and do what Governor [Kate] Brown has asked us to do,” she told KOIN. “But we’re so thrilled he’s recovered from this and we just had to do something for him.”
The governor sent birthday wishes on Facebook.
Lapschies was kept isolated in his room after he started showing symptoms on March 5, and his daughter told KOIN that he got “very, very sick.”
“It seemed like he just made this wonderful recovery,” Brown said. “We were, like, shocked that he was kind of sitting in his wheelchair waving at us through the window and we were like, ‘He’s gonna make it!’ “
The family said they are grateful to the staff for the kindness and care showed to Lapschies while he recovered.
Son-in-law Jim Brown told KOIN that Lapschies is “pretty resilient” and had survived the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska during World War II.
When asked how he felt about turning 104, Lapschies said, “Pretty good. I made it. Good for a few more.”
His family told KOIN that they were looking forward to celebrating his 105th birthday – and to the time when they’ll be able to take him for drives and give him big hugs.
“His smile, I wish you could have seen it, that mask covers it, but his smile is absolutely contagious,” granddaughter Jamie Yutzie told KOIN.
They also hoped that his recovery will give hope to other people with coronavirus.