As the milestone progresses, few things are worth celebrating like a 100th birthday, so friends and family of Loveland resident David Landers went out on Friday to celebrate the special day.
World War II veterans were treated to a parade of cars led by Loveland’s first responders, and dozens of neighbors and cakes gathered at Good Samaritan Village.
Good Samaritans staffer Chelsea Tyler said, “It’s so amazing. ‘…he’s kind of our poster child.'”
Born on December 30, 1922 in Norfolk, Nebraska to parents Leland and Mildred, Landers spent his growing up years on a farm near Sundance, Wyoming, dreaming of becoming a cowboy.
On December 7, 1941, Landers was an engineering student at the University of Wyoming when the Japanese attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. This day changed his life. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and trained to become a pilot.
He ended up flying B-25 bombers on missions in the Pacific theater. In the summer of 1945, as he was stationed on Okinawa and preparing for his 13th flight, the United States dropped a hydrogen bomb on Hiroshima, effectively ending the war.
Nearly 80 years have passed, but Landers still has troubling memories of his few months in Okinawa.
“Not all of us are back,” he said.
After the war, Landers resumed his studies at Laramie and after earning his degree, began his career at General Electric. In the process, he married Nancy, a fellow student of his from Wyoming, and the two started a family.
Landers’ career spanned from New York to Indiana and finally to Colorado, working in the public service. He and Nancy eventually settled in Fort Collins and raised six children. Nancy was also her fourth grade teacher at the Poodle School District.
Since the mid-1980s, Landers and his wife have been missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, an organization that translates the Bible into native languages around the world. During their time with the group, the two visited Indonesia, Peru and Mexico.
Landers and his wife moved to Good Samaria in 2005. Nancy died in 2008 at the age of 83.
Landers attended the celebration with his surviving children Doug, Gary, Janet, Lisa, and longtime friends from the local veterans community.
Vietnam War veteran Burt Bartholomew met Landers more than a decade ago at a gathering of Proud American Military Veterans (PAMVET). His unofficial PAMVET group meets every Saturday morning for breakfast at the Golden Corral, and Landers is a regular participant.
Bartholomew organized the car parade on Landers’ behalf, and said Wednesday night’s winter storm probably dampened the participants. I was touched by the outpouring of support and the participation of Loveland’s first responders.
“Lights and sirens, that’s all,” he said. “The amount of cars that came was amazing.”