A WWII veteran who was the first person at his nursing home to receive the COVID-19 vaccine this week is getting ready to mark his 100th birthday and his family is asking people to send him cards to make the milestone extra special.
Alvin “Bob” River will turn 100 years old on Christmas. He is currently living in the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, Missouri.
River, nicknamed "Bob," was born on Dec. 25, 1920. When Rivers was 12, his family moved from one Missouri town to another in a wagon.
River was drafted into the Army during WWII and served as a sergeant in Germany from 1946 to 1948. After the war, he went on a blind date, dancing and roller skating with a woman named Betty – his now wife of 66 years.
River and Betty have two kids, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren, with another on the way.
"He's just one of those really good, genuine people," River's daughter, Beverly River, said. "He's very generous -- really and truly thought of other people more than himself."
Beverly and her mother had the idea to ask people to send cards to her father for his birthday.
“I just wanted it to be special. It’s a big deal … not everyone makes it to 100,” Beverly said. “I think my dad will get such a kick out of this.”
Beverly said River moved into the VA hospital in April, while Betty, 93, stayed in the home he built for them over 60 years ago. Due to COVID restrictions, Beverly said it has been a difficult year.
“We’re a very tight knit family. Every time we go on a FaceTime call he couldn’t look at us because it would make him said,” Beverly said. “He would get emotional. We would too.”
But there was light at the end of the tunnel: River received one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. The local paper was there to take his picture and document the historic moment.
“I’m excited that he was the person that was chosen to do that,” Beverly said. “It’s been a huge relief. I couldn’t count the days [until he got the vaccine] fast enough.”
Beverly said they will be able to spend River’s 100th birthday with him at the veteran’s hospital.
Beverly said receiving cards from all over the country will help make her dad’s big birthday extra special.
“It’ll be just be so special for someone to just say hello and for someone to notice him and thank him for his service,” Beverly said. “I think my dad will get such a kick out of this.”
If you are interested in helping Bob celebrate his 100th birthday write a card and send it to the address below:
Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans HospitalAttn: CLC Third Floor800 Hospital DriveColumbia, Missouri, 65201