“The bigger guys were always in front of me,” is how a very humble World War II infantry veteran describes getting through the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
I spoke with 95-year-old Gerald Landers Sullivan at his home on Thomas Street last week on a rainy day in front of a cozy fire.
He told me he grew up in Texas and went to military boarding school at Gulf Coast Military Academy. At 18 years of age in 1940 he wanted to fight in the war but the United States was not yet in it. His eagerness and enthusiasm took him to Canada where he joined the Canadian Army as an infantryman.
He served until the war was over and studied business at the University of Western Ontario on the GI Bill of Canada. He returned to Texas and worked for a holding company called AVCO until he retired at 65.
He’s been on the Island for the past five years after living in South Carolina. Gerald explained that it was all his daughter’s doing. She lives in California and wanted him to be near family. His granddaughter Arden lives on the Island with her husband Andrew and their two children.
“So I get to see my great-grandchildren and my granddaughter quite regularly,” he said with a smile.
His daughter is an anesthesiologist in California and is married to a physician. Their son just graduated from medical school.
“They keep up with what I am doing and my daughter visits frequently,” he added.
When I asked him if he followed any specific regimen for longevity, he said that he never smoked or drank.
Gerald said that for breakfast he has a boiled egg and a bottle of Ensure. That’s at about 8 a.m. Then he eats a combination lunch-dinner at about 3 in the afternoon.
“It’s usually something frozen that I cook,” he said.
He pointed out to me that he believes two meals a day are enough, saying that he thinks people eat too much these days.
“The less you eat, the better off you are,” he said.
Gerald’s older brother, age 97, is also a veteran. Their mother lived to be 100. So I think that there’s a bit of longevity in his DNA.
He enjoys walking and lives close enough to the post office and the library to get to them. He used to be able to get food at Schmidt’s. But no more. So he now goes food shopping at the IGA, being driven by his granddaughter or Laurie Fanelli from the Senior Center.
His granddaughter also takes him to the Perlman Music Center several times a year.
“It’s very good,” he said, adding that she also takes him to the Senior Activity Center.
Gerald explained that he has “no desire to travel.”
He always looks forward to his great-grandchildren’s visits and keeping in touch with his other family members.