Wilson: ‘Live every day like it was your last’


A Wilmington man who grew up on an Adams County farm and worked as a heavy equipment operator in Hillsboro before shipping off to war celebrated his 100th birthday Tuesday.

Joseph “Bob” Wilson was born on June 27, 1923 in Peebles to his parents, Virgil and Faye, and remembers growing up on the farm in Adams County.

“Wages was nothing … the first full-time job I had (doing farm work) was 10 cents an hour. You had to work 10 hours a day to make a dollar,” he said.

After that, he went to Hillsboro and worked as a heavy equipment operator until he was drafted for World War II in 1942. He served in the 607th Field Artillery Battalion, U.S. Army, in the Europe campaign, serving under Gen. George S. Patton.

When asked what it was like meeting the famous military leader, Wilson recalled he was “like his reputation.”

“Blood and guts. He had the guts, you had the blood,” Wilson continued.

He even remembered liberating one of the concentration camps in Europe. He said he had pictures of the moment, but that his sister has possession of them.

He served up until 1946, raising to the rank of first sergeant.

When he returned home, he first lived in New Vienna and eventually moved to Wilmington in 1950. He found a job with the Farquhar Furnace Company, starting off as the foreman of the sheet metal department, and then went into the retail side. He later became the owner of the business until his retirement in 2004.

“I told them I’d take the job temporarily, then I stayed there over 60 years,” he said.

When asked what was one of the proudest moments of his life, he pointed out his 74-year marriage to his late wife Margaret, whom he married in 1946 and had four children with. He said there were ups and downs in the marriage but there were no big quarrels. Margaret passed away in 2020.

When asked how their marriage lasted so long, he gave two reasons, “honesty and respect.”

When asked if he had some advice for the younger generation, it is simple.

“I contribute my long life to clean living. No alcoholic, no dope of any kind, I did smoke for awhile but I quit that. And always being a positive influence … always. Live every day like it was your last,” he said.

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.

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