SoCal WWII veteran celebrates 100th birthday, still going strong

Coleen Sullivan Image
Sunday, October 13, 2019
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Dave Lower is a World War II veteran and also a beloved former teacher. He recently celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by loved ones, who all say the centenarian had a profound impact in their lives.

There's a cheering crowd and a red carpet to greet Dave Lower. The World War II veteran arrived in a vintage car for a party to celebrate his 100th birthday.

"All you people showing up, I'm glad I wore clean underwear," he joked.

The sociable senior not only had his family and fellow veterans at his birthday festivities but also some of his former students from his time teaching science at East Downey Junior High school. The party, held at the Menifee Senior Center, was crowded with well-wishers.

Louise Lennen is one of Lower's former students and still a big fan.

"I was 14 years old, I was in 8th grade, and he was my science teacher. I had stars all around his picture because he is the star," Lennen said.

One former student after another took pictures and marveled at the power of social media, which helped them reunite after so many years.

Peggy Farrell has been cutting Lower's hair for 20 years. The former science student says her teacher left a lasting mark.

"I have a love of science. I always have, probably should have pursued it more, but I'm a hairdresser now," Farrell said.

Farrell reached out to her fellow classmates on Facebook to see if they too had fond memories of their former teacher. And now, the group meets once a month!

Dale Gain says the 60 mile drive to see Lower is worth it. He also laughs that he's the only male student in attendance.

"I'm the only one still left alive from my class, remember I had him 57 years ago, I'm 72 now. The trouble is, he looks better than I do at his age, that's the sad part," Gain said.

Lower's fellow World War II vets get together once a month as well.

One of them paid him a huge compliment and said, "He's a walking encyclopedia. He's much sharper at 100 than most people half his age, probably. Amazing."

Lower takes it all in stride, but is proud of the bond he has with his fellow vets.

"They say there's no camaraderie quite like that among old guys that went to the war together when they were boys," he said.

Lower says luck is what has kept him alive.

"I never had basic training, went to two wars, and never had basic training, I went to two wars with the wrong blood type on my dog tag," he said.

As he blew out the candles on his cake, he got cheers from the crowd - his family, fellow veterans and so many friends made through the years.