Honoring 105 years of accomplishments

Mohr and his wife, Josephine, 98, renewed vows during the celebration.
Mohr and his wife, Josephine, 98, renewed vows during the celebration.
Posted: October 22, 2013

In his 105 years, William Aloysius Mohr has experienced many important days.

The day his father died in a printing plant accident. The day his mother, destitute, sent him and his twin brother to an orphanage. The days he spent in the Army during World War II. The day he married his wife, Josephine, and the days his four children were born. The day he retired, at 93.

On Sunday, Bill Mohr's family, friends, and neighbors gathered to celebrate a few more important milestones - his 105th birthday, a renewal of vows after 70 years of marriage, and the award of an honorary degree from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia.

"Our motto is to produce men for and with others," said Bill Conners, a St. Joe's history teacher who recently began archiving Mohr's poems, photos, and documents. "There is no better example of that than Bill Mohr."

Mohr attended St. Joe's on scholarship from 1926 to '28. Getting there had been a stroke of fortune for a child of intense poverty with a severe speech impediment.

At St. Joe's, he earned top grades and worked extra hours every day to improve his speech. He had to drop out after his sophomore year, when his family moved to Hatboro and he couldn't afford transportation to get to school. The Mohrs still live in Hatboro, though they spend half their time in Florida.

He enlisted in the military at 33, earned the Legion of Honor during the beachhead invasion at Saint-Tropez in 1945, and helped liberate the concentration camp at Dachau.

Mohr is believed to be the second-oldest living World War II veteran.

Over lunch in Holicong, Bucks County, on Sunday, friends and family shared memories and marveled over Mohr's accomplishments.

"Every time I'm out here, I hear something new that he's done," said Cecile Balizet, who grew up with the Mohrs' daughter Jodie. "It's just amazing."

"They're not your average 105-year-old and 98-year-old," said Sue Tedesco, one of four in-home care providers whose services allow the Mohrs to remain in the Hatboro home Mohr built by hand.

Friends were unanimous in identifying the secret to the Mohrs' longevity: A positive attitude.

"Every single picture of Bill, he has a big smile on," said Jo Mohr, their daughter-in-law. "And when Josie would come to my house, she'd tell me everything I do is the best thing she'd ever seen."

The same principle has bolstered their marriage.

"I look at him and I say, 'Oh Bill, I love you so much. You're still so handsome,' " Josie Mohr said. "He was so good to me."

Bill Mohr gazed deeply at his wife, tenderly holding her hand. "The Lord smiled down and blessed me. I won't forget that."


jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|