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WWII veteran celebrates 104 trips around the sun

Gerrit Degraaf was born in Holland, MI in 1917. He's celebrating his 104th birthday.
Gerrit Degraaf was born in Holland, MI in 1917. He's celebrating his 104th birthday.(Chelsey Powell)
Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 12:12 PM CDT
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(Gray News) - Gerrit Degraaf, of southwest Michigan, is celebrating his 104th time around the sun!

His granddaughter says he has survived the Spanish Flu, World War II and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

Degraaf was born in Holland, MI in 1917. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family during the beginning of the Great Depression.

He enlisted in the Army in his 20s and went into a career at Eaton Corporation until he retired in 1979.

Degraaf married in the 1940s and had four biological children and raised his first grandchild when the others had grown. He has nine grandchildren in total and two great-grandchildren.

He took care of his wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until she passed away in 2002.

“He has always taken care of others,” his granddaughter, Chelsey Powell, said.

According to Powell, Degraaf loves dogs, the Detroit Tigers and University of Michigan football.

Happy 104th birthday, Gerrit Degraaf!

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