County’s old­est vet casts ab­sen­tee vote

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - DAILY LOCAL NEWS - By Linda Finarelli lfinarelli@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @lk­finarelli on Twit­ter

Bill Mohr is a sur­vivor. The 108-year-old Hatboro man sur­vived a child­hood of poverty, a near de­bil­i­tat­ing op­er­a­tion as a child that left him with a se­vere speech im­ped­i­ment, ser­vice in the Army in­fantry dur­ing World War II — he is the old­est sur­vivor of World War II in Mont­gomery County — and a ma­jor back in­jury.

He’s seen a lot dur­ing all those years and has man­aged to live long enough to see some­thing prob­a­bly unimag­in­able when he was born in 1908 — a woman can­di­date for pres­i­dent of the United States.

On Fri­day, Oct. 28, Mohr cast an ab­sen­tee bal­lot vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton, though the po­ten­tial for her to be­come the first woman pres­i­dent didn’t seem to faze him.

“I never gave it much thought,” Mohr said as to whether he thought he’d live long enough to see a fe­male can­di­date from a ma­jor party run for pres­i­dent of the United States. “To­day women are fi­nally able to show their in­tel­li­gence,” he said Oct. 31, seated at the kitchen table in the house he built him­self.

“Women are just as in­tel­li­gent as men,” said the cen­te­nar­ian, who at­tributes his longevity to be­ing pos­i­tive. “They have a broader view on all the prob­lems.”

The grand­son of an Ir­ish im­mi­grant, Mohr lost his fa­ther when he was 3 years old, and his young mother was forced to place him and his twin brother in an or­phan­age and send his sis­ter to live with an un­cle, his daugh­ter Joanne Hartshorne said. Five years later, he was re­united with his mother after she re­mar­ried.

An op­er­a­tion when he was a tod­dler left him with a ma­jor speech im­pair­ment, but after he won a fouryear schol­ar­ship to St. Joseph’s Prepara­tory School in Philadel­phia, a Je­suit priest taught him how to speak, Hartshorne said. He had to leave school when he was a ju­nior, how­ever, when the fam­ily moved to Hatboro and they were un­able to af­ford the cost of trans­porta­tion to get him to school, she said.

After his story was aired on a lo­cal TV sta­tion,

Mohr was awarded a diploma from St. Joe’s Prep when he was 105.

When he was in his 30s, Mohr joined the Army Re­serve and was called to ac­tive duty after Pearl Har­bor, Hartshorne said. He saw ac­tion in North Africa, Italy and France as a mem­ber of the 45th In­fantry Di­vi­sion, helped stop trains headed for con­cen­tra­tion camps near the end of the war and was part of the force that lib­er­ated Dachau, she said.

He re­ceived the Lé­gion d’hon­neur, the French Le­gion of Honor, after be­ing nom­i­nated by French Jewish ci­ti­zens, she said.

After suf­fer­ing a ma­jor back in­jury dur­ing the war, he was sent home and had re­con­struc­tive surgery, she said.

A fa­ther of four and grand­fa­ther of two, Mohr, along with his brother, owned a nurs­ery in Hatboro for about 30 years, Hartshorne said. After re­tir­ing at age 63, he went to a lo­cal ma­chine shop, where he was taught to op­er­ate a lathe, cut­ting ti­ta­nium and worked un­til age 93, she said.

He and his wife served as the grand mar­shals for the Hatboro Tri­cen­ten­nial, Hartshorne said. Her fa­ther took care of her mother, who even­tu­ally suf­fered from de­men­tia, for about a decade, pass­ing away last year, she said.

Though her fa­ther al­ways fol­lowed pol­i­tics and was pretty much a life­long Repub­li­can, he was not a fan of war — a life­long poet, one of his works de­cries the hor­rors of war — and be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the party dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush pres­i­dency, she said.

He voted for Pres­i­dent Obama and now for Hi­lary Clin­ton, two peo­ple whose ef­forts to help the poor res­onate with him, Hartshorne said.

Asked di­rectly why he cast his vote for Clin­ton, Mohr re­sponded sim­ply, “She has the most sense.”


World War II vet­eran 108-yearold Bill Mohr re­flects on vot­ing for the first fe­male can­di­date for pres­i­dent.

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