William Mohr; met Obama at 108
At 93, William A. Mohr of Hatboro finally stopped working. At 97, he drove a car for the last time.
At 93, William A. Mohr of Hatboro finally stopped working.
At 97, he drove a car for the last time.
At 105, he was awarded a high school diploma.
At 108, the World War II veteran, whose Army unit helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp, met President Obama at a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House last month.
On Sunday, Dec. 18, during his last hour of life at Abington Hospital, Mr. Mohr - who did not recall celebrating Christmas before age 8, because his family was poor and he spent time in an orphanage - smiled wide as he got to meet Santa Claus.
"The last photo of my father alive was him smiling up at Santa Claus," said his daughter, Joanne Hartshorne.
Mr. Mohr died surrounded by family, caregivers, a priest, and a Vietnam veteran in the guise of St. Nick.
"My father was a great inspiration to everyone whose lives he touched," said Hartshorne, adding that he had a "joyful outlook on life despite all his hardship."
When he cast his ballot this past Election Day, he became a celebrity for poll workers and voters, and passed along some wisdom.
"If you're going to be a citizen, you have to take part and vote," he told them, according to an Inquirer story last month. "So many soldiers died for our freedom."
He was born in Philadelphia on Oct. 22, 1908, to Louise and William Mohr.
When Mr. Mohr was 3, his father died after being crushed by a printing press in a work accident. Unable to care for her children, his mother sent him and his twin brother, Joseph, to a Philadelphia orphanage; his sister, Mildred, was placed with a relative. Five years later, his mother remarried and reunited the family.
As a toddler, Mr. Mohr developed a severe speech impediment after the ligaments of his tongue were damaged during the lancing of an infected gland.
He attended grade school at Incarnation of Our Lord in Olney and won a four-year scholarship to St. Joseph's Preparatory School, where he improved his speech.
He had to drop out of high school, however, because of financial hardships brought about by the Great Depression.
In 1940, Mr. Mohr enlisted in the Army and served in the 45th Infantry Division from 1943 to 1945. He traveled to North Africa, Italy, Germany and France. He won France's Legion of Honor award for his service during the Allied invasion at St. Tropez in August 1945.
After a misfired mortar severely injured his spine, he spent two years in rehabilitation before he could walk again. Mr. Mohr was a sergeant when he was honorably discharged in 1946.
He married Josephine DeCarlo on July 31, 1943. They raised their four children in a home in Hatboro he built.
Mr. Mohr and his twin brother owned a landscaping business in Hatboro, Mohr Bros.' Nursery. At 63, he started work at Pressure Products, cutting pieces of metal. He worked full-time until age 93.
His interests included reading, crossword puzzles, and poetry. He even wrote a book of poems.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by sons William T., Gary, and Richard; two grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; one great-grandchild, and two great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 72 years died last year at age 98.
His family plans to hold a celebration of his life in the spring, at a time and place to be determined.
Contributions can be made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation, 406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111, or at http://www.vfwfoundation.org/.