COAL CITY, WV(WVNS)– It could be called “the party of the century,” which is fitting for a man who served his country and who turns 102 years old this month.
At a party in Coal City, guests celebrated Cecil Ward.
“He’s a patriotic American,” said John Canterbury, who visits the Raleigh Commission on Aging meetings with Ward.
Ward’s daughter, Pam Hanshaw of Lakeland, Fla., said her father and late mother reared their three children in Coal City.
“My dad is such a kind, good man,” said Hanshaw. “He always has been. He loves people.”
Raleigh County Veteran’s Museum Director Ron Hedrick said museum volunteers also celebrated Ward’s service to the nation. Ward said he served in the South Pacific.
“It wasn’t much of anything, mostly jungle,” Ward recalled on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, during his birthday party. “I was glad to come home.”
Museum volunteer Sam Williams said he attended the party to assist with museum memorabilia and to recognize Ward.
“He served in World War II, the South Pacific, one of the toughest men,” said Williams. “It’s an honor to be able to be with him.”
The Raleigh Veteran’s Museum displayed World War II memorabilia, including items of Ward’s, during the party. His family and friends and workers from the Raleigh Commission on Aging wished Ward a happy birthday and provided him and his guests with dinner and cake.
Ward said, after the war, he found love in Coal City, where he’s lived since 1929. He saw his late wife, Mary, walking on the street and, then, working in a store.
“When I first seen her, I thought she was the prettiest girl I ever saw,” he said.
The Wards had two daughters and a son. They were married for 66 years, until his wife’s death in November 2014.
“The joy of his life was to play with his kids, to play with us, and he loved my mom so much,” said Hanshaw. “Unfortunately, she passed away six years ago, and he has been sad about that.”
Ward said he stays active. He often visits Summersville Lake.
“I like to ride on my four-wheeler,” he said. “I like to go out on the boat with my daughter and swim in the water.”
After the cake and ice cream was served, Ward spoke with guests and then left the party. He received a crowd of well-wishers and a hero’s send-off.