By Greg Bobinec on December 15, 2020.
Local Second World War veteran George Wilson got the surprise of a lifetime as he celebrated his 100th birthday with his close family members, and a surprise parade from people who wanted to pay their respects to him.
Members of the community, along with the Canadian Armed Forces, Lethbridge Police Service and volunteers from the Salvation Army, came together to form a large, loud and bright parade which drove past his home Saturday morning.
Although Wilson was surprised to find out that so many people came to celebrate his birthday, he says celebrating his 100th birthday was “just another day.”
“We were going to do a drop-in party for him, but because of the COVID we couldn’t do that, so we were talked and we heard in Calgary they did a drive-by for somebody, so I started looking around and set this up,” says Sandy Wilson, George’s daughter. “He says it’s just another day, but I think it has been just great and I think he has really enjoyed it.”
Wilson was born Dec. 12, 1920 in Manola, Alta., before moving to Lethbridge at the age of nine, where he was raised alongside six brothers and two sisters. Wilson later joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1941, being discharged after the Second World War where he served in England, France, Italy and Holland.
Wilson has been married to his wife Barbra for the past 72 years, having eight children, one of whom has since passed away. The Wilsons also fostered many children and adopted one, and now have the expansion on 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Vehicles were decorated, and sirens blared through the north side of Lethbridge to celebrate the life and legacy of the man they have gotten to know quite fondly.
“George attends our church regularly. We actually now have church on Zoom and he is on there every week taking part in the conversation, so we wanted to celebrate with him because 100 years is a really big deal,” says Don Bladen, Salvation Army Church major and pastor. “He is a bit of a character, he likes to have fun, but he is very gentle and kind.”
Although COVID-19 has restricted the normal celebrations for birthdays, the Wilson family, along with supportive community members and organizations, were happy to find a socially-distancing way to celebrate Wilson’s 100 years alive.
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