104-Year-Old WWII Veteran Recovers from Coronavirus, Among the Oldest To Do So


A 104-year-old Oregon World War II veteran could be one of the oldest people to survive COVID-19, according to his family.

William Lapschies was one of the first residents of Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon, to test positive for the disease, KOIN reported.

Lapschies has been isolated in his room since March 5 and staff at the veterans’ home took care of him while using personal protective equipment.

A spokesman from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced this week that the elderly man “has met the guidelines by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority to be considered recovered from COVID-19.”

Lapschies got to celebrate his 104th birthday and his recovery from the coronavirus this week in a social distancing celebration with his family and veterans’ home staff.

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His family brought balloons and a double-layered cake to celebrate, according to The Oregonian. Staff members also wrapped Lapschies in two blankets and put his “Quilt of Honor” with red, white and blue star patterns on top.

He said it felt “pretty good” to be 104, but he was “Good for a few more,” according to KOIN.

His daughter, Carolee Brown, 77, said it wasn’t how they planned to celebrate her father’s birthday, but they were “so thrilled he’s recovered from this.”

“We celebrated his 101 and had over 200 people. So trying to keep our social distancing and do what Governor Brown has asked of us,” she said to KOIN.

When asked how he fought the virus, Lapschies told The Oregonian, “Oh, it just went away.”

His family said that Lapschies has always been a fighter, noting that he lived through the Spanish Flu, Great Depression and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during WWII.

“Bill’s pretty resilient,” Jim Brown, Lapschies’ son-in-law, said to KOIN.

The 104-year-old has two grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

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His family is looking forward to hugging him and taking him for a drive to see the mountains once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

“We hope that this will inspire some of the other people that are going through this,” Brown said.

“And we’re really excited and looking forward to 105.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith