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Surprise parade thrown in Mayfield Village to brighten 103-year-old veteran's day

Posted at 7:23 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-03 19:23:50-04

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio — The family of a 103-year-old World War II veteran from Mayfield Village threw a surprise social distancing celebration to cheer him up after learning he was having a difficult time in isolation.

Sgt. James Edward Shelby served in the Army’s 17th Airborne Divisional Headquarters during WWII, where he fought in Belgium and served until the end of the war.

James, who also goes by Ed, had a very active social life, playing cards with his friends whenever he could.

Several weeks ago, James fell and broke his hip, requiring him to have surgery to repair it followed by rehabilitation treatment. James was discharged from rehabilitation just as the COVID-19 pandemic swept Ohio and has since had to be in isolation from many of the people he saw on a regular basis.

Kevin Shelby, James’ son, said the isolation caused his dad to experience depression, so he and his family wanted to find a way to help cheer him up.

On Sunday, around 50 to 60 cars full of James’ family, friends, neighbors and Mayfield Village first responders drove by his home in Mayfield Village with signs and decorations celebrating James.

James’ girlfriend was even in attendance at the special celebration.

Kevin said James met his 91-year-old youngster of a girlfriend at a Mayfield Village senior center playing cards. The two hit it off and started officially seeing each other three-and-a-half years ago.

James was especially excited to see his girlfriend on Sunday, Kevin said.

Since he was so active before the surgery and the pandemic, going out to eat often and playing cards with his friends, being isolated at home took a toll on him, but the parade held on Sunday definitely helped brighten his spirits.

“Family is everything,” James’ niece Mary Hrwatzki said. “And right now we need to pull together.”