Coronavirus Update New York City: Family makes WWII vet's 100th birthday special, even during pandemic

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A World War II veteran from Brooklyn celebrated his 100th birthday Wednesday with a small family gathering that his relatives say pales in comparison to what his long life and considerable accomplishments and adventures deserve.

Sergeant Lawton Corbett has been on this earth for 36,525 days, not one of them spent standing still.

"I love this, but I don't want to sit in one spot," he said. "Let's move."

Because of the pandemic, his party was limited to a small gathering in Bushwick for a giant of a man who was born December 23, 1920.

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His daughter, Zelphia Calhoun, reflects on her childhood.

"Sitting in the living room listening to Nat King Cole, Barbara Streisand, the Mills brothers and just talking," she said.

He has so many stories from all over the world, having served in a segregated Army from 1942 to 1945, deployed to France, Italy, North Africa, and Japan. In 1958, he met his future wife Pearl, who had just gotten a new job and dropped by to tell Corbett's niece.

"He was there sitting there and that was it," she said. "Party over."

The couple has seven kids, eight grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes is his niece.

ALSO READ | Juanita Holmes promoted to NYPD Chief of Patrol, first woman to hold position

Retired NYPD First Grade Detective Samuel Calhoun is his son-in-law, but he considers Lawton a dad.

"Family is always first," he said. "I think I took a part of that in my home, in my family."

But the elder statesman is a gentle soul who wanted a simple walking stick for his birthday.

"I feel blessed," son Kevin Corbett said. "My father made it to 100. Now we're trying to get him to 110."

ALSO READ | WWII veteran, COVID survivor released from hospital for 104th birthday

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