Vet's key to 103 birthday parties: Work hard at positive outlook
WINTER PARK, Fla. — Floyd "Pete" Petiprin has lived through the Pearl Harbor attack, a broken hip and the loss of his wife Emily, but the Winter Park man greets each day with an upbeat outlook.
"If you have a positive attitude and say your prayers every day, you can recover from almost anything," Petiprin said. "Psychologically, it is very important to be as happy as possible."
The World War II veteran had another reason to smile Saturday.
He turned 103 and celebrated in his apartment at Winter Park Towers by dozens of friends, family and his second wife, Louise Petiprin. His party turned heads at the retirement community where he lives with 550 others.
The celebration also offered plenty of opportunities for Petiprin to reflect on a lifetime of amazing achievements. He grew up poor and lost his mother when he was 9.
Petiprin joined the U.S. Navy when he was a business administration student at the University of Michigan because "we knew we'd be drafted." He was an officer for 10 years before losing friends in the Pearl Harbor attack.
His 41 years in Navy took him all over the world, including fighting in 13 battles and organizing conferences for North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials.
He has called Florida his home since retiring in 1972, living in Winter Park since 1984.
After he lost his first wife in 1998, Petiprin didn't want to be alone. So a year later came the marriage to Louise because the couple "decided we'd finish life together."
His advice for happiness: Choose the right partner. "Like Henry Ford said, 'You choose a model and stick with it.'"
His son, Eric Petiprin, thinks his father has lived "a tremendous life when you consider what he has been through."
His father regularly works out and expects to complete his autobiography in a few months.
"I had what a Michigan boy would consider a pretty good life," the elder Petiprin said.