Dalphin K. "Joe" Ashcraft of Clearwater celebrated his 100th birthday at a party given in his honor April 13 by the North Dunedin Baptist Church.
The centenarian reads his newspaper early every morning, is in charge of his daily medications and has a keen interest in CNN and C-SPAN.
Mr. Ashcraft was born in Harrison County, W.Va., on April 10, 1908, the eldest son of Ai Judson Ashcraft, a Baptist minister, and Della Booker Ashcraft. Four siblings have passed away, but Mr. Ashcraft's youngest brother, 78-year old William, lives in Pinellas Park.
In 1915, 7-year old "Joe" caught sight of his first car, and it would be another year before he saw a paved roadway — a block-long stretch between the grocer's and the doctor's office.
At 21, he joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Eustis and Fort Monroe, both in Virginia, and in the Philippines.
He bought his way out of the Army in 1934 and returned to West Virginia, where he worked as a coal miner.
In February 1941, he re-enlisted in the Army and was assigned to K Company, 76th Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division, an active duty National Guard unit in training at Fort Meade, Md.
After Pearl Harbor, the 76th Regiment was assigned to the District of Columbia.
While in Washington, D.C., Mr. Ashcraft, then a technical sergeant, was accepted for assignment to the newly formed Communications Branch of the Chiefs of Staff of the War Department as a courier of sensitive material.
A highlight of his military service in Washington was meeting Gen. James Doolittle while delivering a confidential letter.
It was during this time Mr. Ashcraft married Hazel Boykins on Aug. 26, 1944, in the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. Their honeymoon was in New York City on a three-day pass. The couple has a daughter, Patricia Corder of Medina, Ohio, and a son, Michael Ashcraft, who passed away in 2007.
Still in the Army when World War II ended, Mr. Ashcraft spent time in Italy and Germany before returning to the U.S. in 1953.
Mr. Ashcraft retired from military service in 1957 and the family lived in Alexandria, Va., where he worked in real estate before coming to Clearwater in the fall of 1968.
Once in Florida, he continued his work in real estate, retired for the second time in 1974 and spent the next 27 years traveling in a recreational vehicle with his wife through 46 of the lower 48 states and much of Canada.
Mr. Ashcraft attributes his longevity in part to the walking and talking he did on so many trails during that time. He also believes that a lot of hot peppers in the diet works wonders, too.
Mr. Ashcraft is a member of North Dunedin Baptist Church, and a former 45-year member of Skycrest Baptist Church, Clearwater, where he ushered for many years, and was on the board of trustees and church bowling team.
Clearwater's Raintree Village became the Ashcrafts' home four years ago, and before that they lived at Island Estates and owned a waterfront home in Palm Harbor on Lake Tarpon, where they enjoyed fishing, boating and entertaining.
Firefighter recognized for helping save man
Palm Harbor's VFW Post 1658 presented the Paramedic of the Year Award to Palm Harbor firefighter/paramedic Brent Breuer on April 26 during its annual recognition dinner.
Breuer received the award for his emergency response to a 53-year-old man in cardiac arrest. When Breuer arrived, the patient's son, Nathan Brown, who attended a CPR class just weeks prior, was performing CPR on his father. Advanced life support interventions were performed by Breuer which resulted in the patient, Neil Brown, a pastor at Northwood Community Church in Clearwater, reviving and later being released.
Neil Brown attended the recognition dinner where he met Breuer for the first time.