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World War II vet surprised with 90th birthday party


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.

“I’m still amazed at this,” he said. “The most surprising part is that I’m 90.”

Mr. Fox said he thought his nurse was taking him and his wife, Lulu E., to his sister-in-law’s house, but they ended up at the fire department instead.

“The last couple years I’ve been with them, he didn’t really care about his birthday,” said Amanda L. Flinn, one of Mr. Fox’s in-home caretakers. “Well, for the last four months, he’s 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. Fox’s nurses who helped plan the party.

“I don’t 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.

“I’m 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.

“We’re 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 that’s what we’re 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.

“He’s like a local celebrity in Clayton right now,” Ms. Flinn said. “It’s so hard to try to get him from one place to the next because everybody that sees him when he’s out stops to talk with him. He’s got three generations’ worth of families that he’s 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 hadn’t 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.

“He’s a jokester,” they said.

Jackie J. LaComb, Ogdensburg, said she’s known Mr. Fox for about 65 years.

“He’s funny and very kind, but he’s a jokester,” she said. “It’s hard to believe now, but we used to play hockey in the backyard.”

Mr. Fox’s 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.

“He’s got a very dry sense of humor that never ends,” said Mrs. Thompson’s husband, John E.

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