At 100, love and family are what Bill cares for

William V. Connell been around the block, living during the great depression and serving in WWII

At 99 years old, love and family are the most important things to Bill.

William V. Connell, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Aug. 13, said he doesn’t have the secret to a long life—he just gives the credit to God.

“It’s something I have no control over. I’ve reached this age. Why?” Bill said, “It’s not because of fancy living or health foods or exercise. It’s just the will of God.”

He added that although he didn’t do anything special to try and live a long time, he does think staying active helped him stay healthy.

Bill and his wife, Theresa Connell, who is 99, turning 100 in five months, live at Heritage House in Buckley, but before that, he and his wife were independent. Despite saying he’s slowed down over the last few years, Bill said he used to mow his own lawn, and Theresa used to tend to the Garden.

Bill was born in Dryad, Washington, a small unincorporated community in Lewis County. He lived in Dryad until he was two, and then Bill lived in Tacoma, Washington, most of his life.

Bill said his earliest memories are fishing with his dad as a child and seeing a photo of himself in a sailor outfit. He said he remembered the great depression, but for him, it wasn’t a big deal. They would always get by in some way or another. He said they would wait in line for free large metal tin cans full of food, and he would also pick blackberries and go fishing. He said that kept them going.

“I think [my childhood] wasn’t too pleasant. It was routine, I’ll put it that way,” Bill said. He said he’s always had hearing problems, but nowadays, he wears fancy hearing aids. But because of his hearing problems, Bill said he didn’t care too much about his time in high school. He said he’s never been social due to his hearing problems.

“Oh, I was just a quiet kid. I think I just wanted to get through and get out of there. I’ve had hearing problems all my life, so I kind of shied away from groups or places where I’d waste my time listening to something I couldn’t understand,” Bill said, “I saw people laugh and not know what they’re talking about. I felt kind of left out because of that, but that’s what God gave me, and so I live with that.”

Bill graduated from Lincoln High School in 1941, and after graduation, he served in World War II in the Army for Three years, two months, and ten days.

“I was with the 20th Armored Divison. I remember that because we were pretty much at the tail end of invading Europe,” Bill said. “I was glad to go to Europe rather than the South Pacific. It was kind of a nasty war over there.” Bill said he liked the Army because he learned a lot of discipline. He said he could see the training as beneficial for any kid coming out of high school. After serving in the war, Bill said for 38 years, he worked as an administrative manager at various state institutions such as mental health institutions and other state institutions. Throughout his life, Bill was married twice. Having three kids in his first marriage and then married his second wife, Theresa, 39 years ago when he was 60.

Bill said after he married Theresa, they spent a lot of time traveling, going all over the world, but he said he particularly enjoyed Switzerland, calling it his favorite place in the world. Bill said he and his wife spent time there and even stayed for a “Swiss Christmas.”

He’s just amazed that he’s lived 100 years, but he said he thinks everyone has a purpose in life–otherwise, he wouldn’t be here. He and his wife are Christian, so Bill said that’s a large part of his life. He believes God is controlling his life, and moving forward, whatever happens at 100 years old is all in the hands of God.

“The purpose and meaning of my life is to do good in the biblical standard of doing good unto others and live for God,” Bill said. “Everybody’s human and they have every reason to exist as you do, as long no one’s being offensive.”