Lexington WWII veteran celebrates 95th birthday

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As the state nears the anniversary of the first COVID case, a Lexington man celebrated a special day in true pandemic fashion – with only a few close friends and family.

However, the laughter and energy was enough to make Edward C. Cox feel surrounded with love as he celebrated his 95th birthday.

“They’re all wonderful neighbors, except the one behind you,” Cox joked.

He’s a World War II veteran. Cox dropped out of high school at 18 to join the navy, but in 2009, at age 83, Henry Clay High School gave him a diploma.

“Got a standing ovation at Rupp Arena,” Cox recalled.

He said that moment meant a lot to him. Cox wears his class ring every day, and has his cap, gown and even the boots he wore at the ceremony on a mannequin in his room.

“They all make fun of me,” Cox said, laughing.

Cox said he didn’t have it easy growing up, and got emotional when he tried to talk about his past. Despite obstacles, he made a way and started his own carpentry business that’s still standing today.

“Everything he’s done in his life, he’s earned it himself,” Cheryl Hatfield, his ‘favorite’ niece said.

Hatfield is also his caretaker, provided by the VA.

“It is my highest honor,” Hatfield said.

Cox is the last living family member of his generation. Hatfield says the lessons he gives her are priceless, and his sense of humor keeps her in stitches.

She says Cox, a natural salesman, still tries to make money any way he can. Of his many recent schemes, Hatfield says Cox had her price all household items.

“And he tells me I have to write on there, ‘trying to downsize and sell items I don’t need before the rapture,’” Cox said as she laughed.

This was just one of his many recent get-rich-quick schemes.

Surrounded by loved ones, reflecting on funny memories, Cox says he couldn’t ask for more.

“I had a good life honey,” Cox said. “I had a good life over here. It was rough to start with, but I think I made it.”