100-year-old Henry Wiley sat out on his snowy porch today to wave to a car parade celebrating his birthday. The World War II veteran was undeterred by freezing temperatures and a snowstorm.
“It feels real good,” Wiley said about turning 100. “I’m just blessed. The Lord has work for me to do.”
Wiley’s family and friends drove past his Pullman home on the far South Side with a police escort, honking and shouting out birthday messages.
“He’s very loving and caring, has a lot of wisdom and understanding,” daughter Tracy Wiley said. “He’s just terrific.”
Wiley served in WWII, where he said he was a gunner in both Black divisions, the 192nd and the 193rd. At the time, the U.S. military was segregated, and his units were part of what was called the Buffalo Infantry.
“Everybody say, ‘What you plan for? Are you looking to get married?’ I say, ‘How the hell am I gonna get married now, 100 years old? What I look like?'” Wiley said, laughing. He then quoted B.B. King: “When you get 100, the thrill is gone.”
Clyde Clark, a fellow veteran and the president of Wiley’s block club, took part in the car parade.
“He came out one day and gave me a brand new pair of gloves. I was cutting the grass, and you know what he told me. He said, ‘You gonna live a long time,'” Clark said. “I pray that I will be able to follow in his footstep.”
Wiley is concerned about violence in the world today, saying “we live in a dangerous world.” And he said that his family’s love helped him reach 100.
“I hope that the rest of my life will be the best of my life,” Wiley said.
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