Long Island

WWII Veteran and NYC Native Celebrates 100th Birthday

NBC Universal, Inc.

Al Jameison welcomed all the attention Wednesday, but was -- he said -- a bit surprised.

"I said, 'gee whiz.' I didn’t think I’d reach an age like that," he said.

That's because the East Harlem native turned 100 Wednesday. The milestone prompted a party at a Long Island assisted living facility Jameison now calls home.

"He’s been through a lot, he’s seen a lot," Timothy said.

Jameison’s only son describes his dad an old school tough New Yorker, a member of the Army's Military Police in World War II who was still driving and living on his own until about four years ago

"I think his secret was respect, admiration for all people and he learned tolerance," Timothy said.

Tolerance, Jameison says, was vital in his complicated world.

His Army unit was segregated and, later, after his wife and son moved to St. Albans Jameison faced similar challenges in his career as a commercial artist and union organizer.

"I got a lot of opposition," he said. "Plenty of opposition but I managed to climb that mountain and get through."

Jameison created logos for ad agencies, worked for the predecessor of Marvel Comics and later taught art to high school students -- all while caring for a wife who died after a battle with multiple sclerosis.

"I wouldn’t say I was exceptional but I wouldn’t accept failure. I wouldn’t accept that," he said.

On a day when he reflected back on his century of living, Jameison delivered a simple message: don’t let life’s disappointments knock you off course.

"Go ahead and face them and keep moving, and I think in the end you win out," he said.

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