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Local World War II Veteran Celebrates 100th Birthday

Over the weekend, there was standing room only to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of Hillman’s Haven resident, Arthur Lyle Ames’ one hundredth birthday. Lyle was born in 1924 in Pickford, Michigan and is a World War II veteran that has seen history unfold. One of his highlights was witnessing the Surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri from the tower of the USS Iowa, “The highlight of my Navy career was when they signed the peace treaty with Japan, I was privileged to watch it from the periscope on the conning tower,” said Ames. “Like I said, I never pulled rank as a seaman before, but I said ‘look guys, I’m leading seaman in this division, I got dibs on the periscope.”

Ames also prides his marriage to his late wife Lorma, who caught his eye from across the room when he was in the seventh grade. They dates over the years and into early adulthood, and when Ames began Naval training school in Baltimore, MD, he would  call her every week and ask for her hand in marriage. Eventually, Lorma said “yes,” and set her life in Pontiac aside and joined him in Maryland. The two begun a very successful marriage and together lived in twenty three different places together, with Lorma making each place feel like a home. Ames shares his tips for a successful marriage, “Never go to bed mad, I had people ask me how could you be married for 75 years, never go to bed mad.”

At one hundred years old, Ames is in excellent health and shares his tips for longevity, “I never was a drinker, I smoked while I was in the Navy, but I never inhaled smoke, I just smoked like most sailors did. I always tried to live a fairly clean life, so I think that attributed to my good health. Even yet, I’m pretty healthy,” and adds, besides that, for seventy five years, my wife would tell me ‘take care of yourself,’ you know.”

Lyle and Lorma spent twenty years splitting their time between Pickford, MI and Tuscan, AZ before settling in at Hillman’s Haven in 2017, and since Lorma’s passing, Lyle has helped organize a chorus and even distribute mail. While these tasks had many obstacles in Lyle’s way, his determination and will helped get the job done, “Some days the mail comes in pretty late, but we get it done,” said Ames.

And on Saturday, the community got to celebrate him, filling Hillman’s Haven with cheer. His daughter, Cheri, staff, and administration worked together to plan the perfect birthday party. There were so many people at the event, Ames was worried their wouldn’t be enough food for everyone! But thanks to the team’s skillful planning, the celebration went on without a hitch. After the event, Ames was showered with calls, gifts, and cheers from his loved ones and received over one hundred birthday cards. “The parking lot was absolutely full, people were parking out on the street, I absolutely couldn’t believe it, they just kept coming in and coming in and coming in,” Ames recalls the event.

While Ames was initially hesitant to transition into assisted living, his experience at Hillman’s Haven has been a perfect fit. Throughout our conversation with Ames, he constantly praised the staff, administration, and community support for giving him an amazing experience. “I can sum it up by saying, ‘I don’t want to be any place else,” said Ames.

Happy Birthday, Arthur Lyle Ames.