He’s 100, and he doesn’t doubt it

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, August 29, 2019

Somebody better give Roger Crew some chocolate during his 100th birthday party. He will have earned it.

The World War II veteran, who was born Aug. 30, 1919, turns 100 Friday, but he will celebrate his birthday with about 60 family members and friends Saturday.

“Everybody is praising me,” Crew said. “Nobody believes I’m 100. I don’t doubt that for a bit.”

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Don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s sedentary. He’s anything but.

Crew, who has been living at Lake Prince Woods for almost three years, exercises three times per week and takes regular walks outside, using his cane to help him get around. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, he’ll make his rounds inside.

His secret to a long life?

“I’ve always been honest,” Crew said. “I’ve worked, and I’ve never been drunk in my life, and I never will be. And I try to eat properly.”

But he does have a vice — chocolate.

“I love chocolate, most any sweet things,” Crew said, before whispering with his hand cupped by the side of his mouth to prevent his daughter, Mary Lou Cox, from hearing him: “Don’t tell her.”

His favorite chocolate is Hershey’s Kisses, which he’ll eat two at a time to indulge.

As an adult, he worked at the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth before going off to serve in World War II.

He recalled an incident in which the ship he was on was torpedoed, and, being in charge of 10 men, tried to stay calm through the incident. They all stayed safe and were saved.

He served his tour in the Army and recalled leaving on a ship from San Francisco.

“The Golden Gate Bridge, it was an ugly thing,” Crew said.

When he returned from the war?

“That was the prettiest thing I ever saw,” Crew said.

After his four years of duty was up in June 1945, he came back to the shipyard and worked as a sheet metal worker, making metal furniture for ships.

“I made just about anything you could think of,” Crew said. “I worked hard. It was really hard work, because you had to be accurate.”

He bought a house in Norfolk in the early 1950s and married to Mary Virginia Crew in 1948.

“She was pretty, beautiful eyes,” he said. “She looked at me, and I looked at her. We fell in love, and then we made the arrangements to get married.”

Crew’s wife died after suffering from breast cancer in 1978 after almost 30 years of marriage.

“I miss her and I will never forget my girlfriend, who was my life,” Crew said.

Crew continued to work at the shipyard until he retired in 1981, working there almost 42 years. But even after, Crew, who professes a disdain for sitting, stayed busy.

“I don’t like to do this,” he pointed to the chair he was sitting in. “I like to be moving. Everybody wants you to sit down. … I don’t like it.

“God made chairs, but he didn’t make one for me.”

He stayed in Norfolk after his retirement and was a regular at Norfolk Temple Baptist Church. He worked mowing grass and did many odd jobs for people until he reached his early 80s. He then decided to sell his house and come to Suffolk.

His daughter started taking him to First Baptist Church, but he’s not able to sit for long periods of time, so he no longer goes to the services.

Crew suffered from cancer about seven years ago, but that is in remission. He had a bout of pneumonia last year that kept him inactive for much of that time, but with physical therapy, he was able to get back to walking, which he does twice per day. He praises the Lake Prince Woods staff for taking care of him.

“They look out for you,” Crew said. “If I drop my stick, they’ll be right there. They have all been great for me.”

He said he likes to stay busy, but when everyone goes away for the day, it’s a little too quiet for him.

“Nights are lonely,” Crew said. “You’re by yourself.”

But he’s well-known at Lake Prince Woods, chatting up anyone in his path.

“I’ve walked with him,” his daughter said. “Everybody knows him.”