Lena WWII vet reflects on turning 100: “I’m thankful for all the things that happened in my life’

Alvin Kemper shares the secret to longevity after marking a century milestone
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 9:33 PM CST
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LENA, Ill. (WIFR) - “I thought it would be just another day. “I’m thankful for all the things that have happened in my life,” said Alvin Kemper.

Kemper’s memories are full. He’s seen a lot, including the 42 months he served in the Pacific during World War II.

“And different islands. Like Bora Bora, Treasure Island Guadalcanal,” Kemper said.

But he made northwest Illinois his home.

“I worked in the factory for 31.4 years and then I did carpenter work,” said Kemper.

He even squeezed in a few card games. In fact, it’s those card games that led him to his latest love.

“I met this lady, Donna Mae Stewart,” Kemper said. “And we played a lot of Eucher!”

Together, they are the right and left bowers, a winning hand for nearly ten years. Kemper celebrated his 100th birthday Friday with his friends in Lena.

“I’m thankful. I’m thankful for Elizabeth -- my helper. I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Kemper said.

Kemper reflected on a life well-lived, surviving two pandemics, a Great Depression and a Great Recession. He’s witnessed technological advances unimagined a century ago.

“It’s a surprise to me,” Kemper said.”

Kemper shared his secret to a happy and fulfilling life.

“I have a sentence. I’ll spell it to you. It’s the world is good today. I’ll spell it forwards and backwards... the world is great today.”

Kemper’s friends at Lena Living celebrated his special day with lunch and cake, and best of all, Donna Mae stopped by to visit.

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