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Oct 11, 2019

102-Year-Old World War II Veteran Gets Birthday Surprise

George Campbell got the surprise of a lifetime Thursday for his 102nd birthday, thanks to his family and staff at the Willow Springs Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center nursing facility in Brick. The World War II veteran received an outpouring of birthday greetings, including a video from Gov. Phil Murphy, a resolution from the New Jersey Senate, a proclamation from Brick Township and thousands of cards sent by well-wishers from across the nation.


It all began when Campbell’s daughter, Patricia Campbell-McAvoy, of Brick, and Willow Springs Activity Director Jennifer Campbell asked George what he wanted for his birthday – to which he replied “102 cards.” Willow Springs shared a post on Facebook with George’s photo and his simple birthday wish. The post quickly went viral – viewed more than 134,000 times and shared nearly 1,400 times – and drew the attention of local, regional and national media.


Mail from across the nation began to arrive. To date, Campbell has received in excess of 6,000 cards.


“We are so touched by the outpouring of kindness and support we received for George,” said Yehuda May, LNHA, administrator at Willow Springs. “Our staff was thrilled to work with his daughter on this special surprise, and George’s delight was priceless. We want to thank Gov. Murphy and all those who sent birthday greetings and gifts; you made his day – and year!”


Originally from Perth Amboy, Campbell resided in Brick for many years and moved to the nursing center in May. A proud Navy veteran, Campbell served in the South Pacific during World War II. During his career, he worked as a sheet metal specialist, involved in building many diners, including the original O.B. Diner in Point Pleasant. Upon retirement, he became a curator at the Thomas Edison Museum in West Orange, where he worked for 25 years. Campbell’s many interests have included fishing, gardening and watching Wheel of Fortune.


When asked his secret to longevity, Campbell said, “To be calm.” Genetics may also play a role, as his mother lived to 104 years old. Married to his late wife, Kathleen Coogan Campbell, for 63 years, Campbell remains a dedicated family man. He also has a son, Robert; three grandchildren, Erin, Jonathan and Brendan; and two great grandchildren, Alice and Clara.