Local veteran turns 100, receives high school diploma

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Friday was a day worth dressing and dancing for.

"We're gonna have some cake and ice cream ok?" cooed a nurse at Sims State Veterans Nursing home.

"Ok, yes ma'am," replied Corporal Alvin Carver, done up with a nice tie.

The recreation room at Sims was full of nurses, staff residents and several other special guests. Balloons filled the corners, and the big cake sat on a table just behind Carver, ready for the cutting.

"I woke up and wanted to jitterbug a little bit," said Corporal Alvin Carver.

That's because Carver just turned 100-years-old.

"I knew I had to come," said his eldest daughter Dale Beveridge. "This was very exciting and I wanted to be with my Daddy."

Beveridge and her daughter Carrie came from Texas to celebrate with Carver.

He sat with a satisfied smile and listened to the chorus of 'Happy Birthdays'.

"It feels real good," he says.

Carver was born to sharecroppers in Coffee County, Georgia in 1916. He was number five of ten siblings. He has said that all the children before him were given middle names, but as soon as his parents got to Alvin, they stopped the tradition. He attended an old two-room schoolhouse until he was about 10.

He worked the fields picking cotton with his family and has said tobacco was the true money crop.

"How does it feel to say you're 100 years old?" we asked.

He paused.

"I don't hardly know, it just happened to be I get there I guess," he said laughing. "Glad to get there though."

Carver is still just as sharp as he dresses. His memory, kind words and easy smile picks up where his hearing aids leave off.

At ten-years-old, Carver had to leave his two-room school house to work full-time in the fields for his family. He went on to join the Army with one of his brothers at just 19-years-old. They'd hoped to go to Hawaii together.

They went off to Fort Bragg, South Carolina and were able to stay together for most of their military careers into northern African and Europe, though they never did see Hawaii.

Carver served the Army for six years and served a loving wife for 62.
He never did get to go to high school or earn a diploma, however, which is why on this special birthday that diploma came to him.

Amidst the applause, a representative from Bay District Schools handed Carver an honorary high school diploma.

"Do you feel smarter now that you have your diploma?" asked Ginny O
'Hare, activities coordinator for the nursing home.

"Yes ma'am," Carver laughs.

"Yeah, that's the school of hard knocks right there!" she says.

"Yeah," Carver echoes, "Yeah." He pauses.

"It makes me feel stronger."

This Army man is a man of few words.

"Anything to add, Mr. Carver?' we ask.

"No, no, I'm satisfied," came the reply.

He's a man who says just what he feels.

"Oh I love everbody. Thank you!"

He's a man who says exactly what he means.

"I love you daddy," says Beveridge, patting her father's back.

"Love you," he echoes. "Always will."

"I always will love you," she replies.

"Always will."