Kentucky's Oldest Veteran Turns 103

Kentucky's Oldest Veteran Turns 103

By Connie Leonard

(OKOLONA, Ky., May 4th, 2004, 12:30 p.m.) -- In Okolona, a special tribute was held recently to honor "Kentucky's oldest veteran." And as WAVE 3's Connie Leonard tells us, even at the age of 103, he's still serving our country.

It was no ordinary birthday celebration -- not many people live to see the number "103" atop their cake. But anyone who knows World War 1 vetran Robley Rex knows he's103 years "young."

Just try to keep up with him -- whether he's giving speeches, throwing out the first pitch at a Bats game, or being honored as volunteer of the year, he can still flirt with the pretty girls.

Robley is an ordained methodist minister whose gifts include knowing how to reassure a mother with a son in the military "Well, let's hope he'll be lucky like me," he says. "From the day I was born, God has taken care of me."

Some of his party guests helped put his life in perspective, noting that Robley was "alive when the last covered wagon went west and when man stepped on the moon."

The secret to his longevity? "That's easy -- I married the right woman." Robley and his late wife, Grace, were married for 68 years. After the war, Mr. Rex came home to serve some 18,000 hours as a volunteer at the VA hospital, helping vets and their widows.

Even after 75 years of service to veterans, Robley's message keeps going as long as he does. "Freedom cannot prevail without loyalty to God's laws and the laws of our land," he says.

Most of Robley's volunteer hours are spent at the VA hospital. He also serves as the chaplain at his post, and never misses a monthly meeting at the Okolona VFW.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 200 World War I vets are still alive.

Online Reporter: Connie Leonard

Online Producer: Michael Dever