WWII veteran celebrates 100th birthday in Orange Park

William Phillips says secret to long life is no cigarettes or drinking

By Roxy Tyler - Web producer, Quan McGil

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - It was a celebration fit for a celebrity as William Phillips gathered with a huge crowd of family and friends to mark his 100th birthday.

Phillips is a World War II veteran who served in the Philippines when he was 19 years old.

“To be surprised by this at 100 years old, I thank God for his blessings," said Phillips. 

He survived the war and said the secret to a long life is not smoking cigarettes or drinking. Instead, he joked, just be a ladies' man. 

"So far, I’m surprised and thankful for having a wonderful wife.” said Phillips. 

Phillips was joined by his wife, son, siblings and friends as they celebrated his milestone birthday at a conference room at the Holiday Inn in Orange Park, complete with a cake to mark the occasion.

“He is a testament to that as far as him continuing to just strive and just work hard, being an entrepreneur and being a successful man, a father,” said Phillips' son, Anthony Phillips. 

Phillips was born April 15, 1919, and has lived in Georgia, New York and Jacksonville. He's been married to his wife for 53 years. His two sisters are in their 90s and joined him for his big day.

“When he tried to approach her, my mother, she smacked him and told him that you know he has too many women and that she didn’t want to do anything with him," said Anthony Phillips. 

Phillips showed the crowd he could still bust a move when he danced as the crowd sang a special happy birthday song to him.

He said one of the highlights of his life was getting to meet Jackie Robinson, of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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