WWII veteran gets parade for 105th birthday

ajc.com

He was born in 1917, during WW1.

On Saturday, July 23, a parade of cars drove by Kenny Snavely’s apartment, honking horns, waving arms and wishing him a happy 105th birthday.

Born in 1917, during World War I, Snavely served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-46 during World War II as staff sergeant and supply sergeant, most of the time in England. Bridgette Federspiel, who interviewed him in 2010 with her Stivers students for the Veterans Project, kept up with him afterward.

“He said if anyone wanted so much as a screwdriver, it came through his office,” she said. After the war, Snavely continued to work for the government, in Pennsylvania, then came to Dayton to work at Wright Patterson in 1965, and retired in 1975.

“He‘s been retired longer than he worked,” said Federspiel. “But he said the war had broadened his view of the world, and so he loved to travel, traveling a lot with his wife. After his wife died in 2008, he continued to travel, usually with the El Meson Restaurant’s travel group, right up to the pandemic.

“He had moved into an assisted-living apartment at Trinity Community of Miami Township around 2015, and would go to El Meson, his and his wife’s favorite restaurant, every week. When he had to stop driving at 95, El Meson was wonderful – they’d arrange for him to be picked up, brought to the restaurant, and arrange a ride home for him.”

Snavely has also been very active with VFW Post 9550 in Centerville, which highlighted him one year at a July 4th parade. They had a party for him on his 100th birthday, before COVID hit.

“The pandemic really affected him,” said Federspiel. “He couldn’t get out and visit his friends, and now has problems with mobility. He can walk, but it’s easier and he’s more mobile in a wheelchair.”

But, he was very excited about his 105th birthday “surprise,” which Federspiel suggested to VFW 9550 and they arranged it, recruiting his friends. His children, grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren came, his neighbors and friends from the VFW came, and all sat around him as the parade passed by.

Federspiel suspects he knew something was going on before, but didn’t know what, until everyone gathered on the porches and the cars started arriving.

“Dad was delighted by the parade,” said his son, Chuck Snavely, who’d traveled from Florida. “It gave him the chance to see family, neighbors and friends from the VFW Post.”

“We are delighted that he’s still with us at 105 and in good shape. In addition to his family, Dad has had great support from the community at Trinity and his friends at the VFW.” Although his life has changed since the pandemic, his son says that the family often quotes the motto his dad has used over the last few years: ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’”

The parade, led by a car with a big Happy Birthday sign, included 15 cars, a sheriff in his car, and a motorcycle. One of his great-grandchildren rode in a car and waved while screaming.

“He got very excited, was so glad to see everybody, and enjoyed the attention,” said Federspiel.

Staying in alone during the pandemic seemed to affect his short-term memory as well as his mobility, and it may be that he’ll forget the details of this special birthday – but at least, in the moment, on one day, and hopefully much longer, Snavely realized and will recall the happiness and excitement he had been missing.

Contact the author at virgburroughs@gmail.com.

Combined ShapeCaption
Born in 1917, during World War I, Snavely served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-46 during World War II as staff sergeant and supply sergeant, most of the time in England. Bridgette Federspiel, who interviewed him in 2010 with her Stivers students for the Veterans Project, kept up with him afterward. Contributed

Born in 1917, during World War I, Snavely served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-46 during World War II as staff sergeant and supply sergeant, most of the time in England. Bridgette Federspiel, who interviewed him in 2010 with her Stivers students for the Veterans Project, kept up with him afterward. Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Born in 1917, during World War I, Snavely served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-46 during World War II as staff sergeant and supply sergeant, most of the time in England. Bridgette Federspiel, who interviewed him in 2010 with her Stivers students for the Veterans Project, kept up with him afterward. Contributed

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