William “Bill” Lapschies got his clean bill of health this week and got to ring in his 104th birthday with a socially distanced party with his family.
Bill was born in Salem, Oregon in 1916 and lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed between 50 to 100 million people worldwide and endured the Great Depression. In 1939, he married Alamadean “Deanie” Buetell. They were married for 60 years until she died in 2001. At age 27 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was brokenhearted about leaving his wife and 2 daughters.
He told people that the happiest day of his life was the day he got to see them again in the Fall of 1945.
His daughter Carolee Brown told a story about when she was 10 years old and obsessed with horses her father surprised her and took her to a farm with horses for sale.
“We bought a horse; we actually walked it home,” Brown said. “That horse lived with us on a half acre … until I was like 18 years old. What an incredible dad"!
Bill is believed to be the oldest person to recover from the coronavirus. He’s lived through a lot over the years, including the 1918 Spanish Flu and the Great Depression and he says it feels “pretty good” to be 104.
His granddaughter Jamie Yutzie said "His smile, I wish you could have seen it, that mask covers it but his smile is absolutely contagious,"
Bill commenting on his 104th birthday said “I made it! I'm good for a few more.”
Some other people of note who survived COVID-19 include Zhang Guangfen, a 103-year-old grandmother in Wuhan, China, was released from the hospital in early March after recovering. And a 101-year-old Italian man known only as “Mr. P” was recently released from a hospital in Rimini, Italy.
Also it should be noted that Bill isn't alone in beating Coronavirus in the Veterans Home. He was the first person diagnosed in the home with it, but 8 other vets aged 70 and older have also survived it in his home! Out of 16 diagnosed in the home 9 have come through it, 2 have died, 3 are in stable condition and 2 others still haven't developed symptoms.