MORRISTOWN Birthday wishes, hugs and cake surprised a World War II veteran Sunday afternoon at the Morristown Fire Department.
Harold C. Fox, Clayton, stood shocked in the doorway when he saw all of his family and friends awaiting him in the decorated hall, to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Im still amazed at this, he said. The most surprising part is that Im 90.
Mr. Fox said he thought his nurse was taking him and his wife, Lulu E., to his sister-in-laws house, but they ended up at the fire department instead.
The last couple years Ive been with them, he didnt really care about his birthday, said Amanda L. Flinn, one of Mr. Foxs in-home caretakers. Well, for the last four months, hes been reminding me that his birthday is coming and that he wants some big thing for his birthday.
Ms. Flinn is one of three of Mr. Foxs nurses who helped plan the party.
I dont usually get this close to my clients, but he and Lu are just like grandparents, Ms. Flinn said.
Five veterans from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2936, Ogdensburg, presented Mr. Fox with two certificates of appreciation to recognize his service, one from the VFW and one from the recently established St. Lawrence Chapter of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club in Ogdensburg.
It was very surprising and complimentary, he said.
Mr. Fox was a staff sergeant in the Army Air Corps during World War II who was stationed in the Pacific.
Im just lucky enough to have lived this long, he said.
Scott A. Compo, commander of VFW Post 2936 and president of the motorcycle club, said members wanted to support a fellow veteran.
Were all veterans ourselves, and we get together to come and support local veterans, he said. We got a phone call asking if we could come and pay tribute to Harold, so thats what were here for.
Mr. Fox is originally from Ogdensburg, but moved to Clayton years ago. He retired in 1984 from teaching at Guardino Elementary School in the Thousand Islands Central School District, and has become a Clayton celebrity, according to his nurses.
Hes like a local celebrity in Clayton right now, Ms. Flinn said. Its so hard to try to get him from one place to the next because everybody that sees him when hes out stops to talk with him. Hes got three generations worth of families that hes taught through school.
Ms. Flinn said that since Mr. Fox has a cerebral disease that has greatly affected his mobility, many of the friends and family members present hadnt seen him in years.
Although the room was full of family, neighbors and friends of all ages, they all used the same word to describe Mr. Fox.
Hes a jokester, they said.
Jackie J. LaComb, Ogdensburg, said shes known Mr. Fox for about 65 years.
Hes funny and very kind, but hes a jokester, she said. Its hard to believe now, but we used to play hockey in the backyard.
Mr. Foxs birthday cake was decorated with a sports theme because he was very involved in sports when he was younger, according to his sister-in-law Linda L. Thompson.
He loved his baseball, softball, football, and rode his motorcycle sometimes, she said.
Hes got a very dry sense of humor that never ends, said Mrs. Thompsons husband, John E.