Villa Rica resident Willis Ralls celebrates a milestone birthday this month.
Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States. America had just entered her first combat engagement of WWI. Moon Pies, Girl Scout Cookies, and Chuck Taylor Converse All Star athletic shoes had just been invented. It was 1917, and Willis Jackson Ralls was born on October 23rd. That may not seem remarkable, but Mr. Ralls is celebrating his birthday this month. That’s number 100!
Willis Ralls grew up and worked on the family farm in Carlisle, Kentucky. Later, he worked the tobacco fields around Lexington and also did construction work. As World War II raged on, Ralls served in the reserves prior to his full enlistment in the US Army. He retired from the Army in 1975 after almost three decades of service. He served the country in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and previously as a reservist and then as an enlisted soldier in World War II. His children proudly relate that he was a Purple Heart recipient in two wars. After retiring from the service as a Sergeant Major (E9) , Mr. Ralls worked as a Master Carpenter in the construction industry several years.
Twenty-five years ago Ralls moved to the Villa Rica area, where he lives today. He is a member of Bethany Christian Church in Villa Rica. He loves laughter, kids, music (he was once a great dancer), and animals. Mr. Ralls has 13 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and 3 great great grandchildren.
His daughters, Cathy Walters and Pam Dyhrkopp will be traveling from Louisiana and Mississippi respectively for their father’s 100th Birthday Party. Half-sister, Janice Carpenter will attend from Indiana. Step-brothers Mike Wedding (Kentucky) and Pat Wedding (Atlanta) will also attend. Step-sister Marie Radcliffe, of Villa Rica, rounds out the siblings who have the rare opportunity to celebrate a parent’s 100th Birthday.
Mr. Ralls was born before polyester, before jet airplanes, before antibiotics in common usage, and before television. Less than a week after his 12th birthday, the stock market crashed to precipitate the coming of the Great Depression. A little over a month after his 24th birthday, Pearl Harbor was attacked, drawing the United States immediately into WWII. He was 66 years old when the first commercial cell phones were made available.