OREM, Utah — John Frey sat in his room at the Bennion Veteran’s Home in Payson, fiddling with the break mechanisms on his wheelchair. Even at 100 years old, Frey still focuses on things that need fixing — a habit from the years he spent working with mechanics and machines.
"He can fix anything," explained Frey's daughter, Janice Carlson, who lived next door to Frey in Manti for the 15 years prior to Frey moving into the Bennion Veteran's home.
Though he now has some trouble remembering details, Carlson said Frey worked on vehicles and equipment for the Army in 1945, and had World War II not ended when it had, he may have been deployed overseas.
After the war ended, Frey spent most of his working life in Las Vegas. Ever resourceful and independent, he lived in his own home until after his 100th birthday.
Now with six children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren, Frey attributes his long life to “cleaning up his plate when he eats,” and seems unimpressed with how many years he’s been alive.
"I've had too many birthdays," he quipped when asked about his quickly approaching birthday, June 7, when he'll turn the big 101.
While Frey may be unimpressed, his family and the nursing home staff are hoping to make it something a little extra special, by making sure he gets at least 101 birthday cards for his big day.
With the help of Janice Carlson’s daughter, Kara Carlson, a message was posted to Facebook April 22 asking people to send birthday cards to Frey in advance of June 7. That post has been shared hundreds of times, and cards have already started coming in to the home.
With Frey’s birthday still a month out, Janice Carlson thinks the cards will continue to roll in — she’s even requested cards be sent from her congressman, senators and even the president.
"I think we'll be reading cards for a couple of days," Janice Carlson said. "I think he's excited."
Once the cards are opened, Frey said he'll put them up in his room.
"I figure I'll look at them again sometime," he said.
The cards, especially coming from people who don't know Frey personally, show people's appreciation and respect for older generations, Janice Carlson said.
"That's just a tribute to people's appreciation of and respect of older generations ... the example they've set," Janice Carlson said.
Anyone who wants to send a birthday card to Frey can address it to: Bennion’s Central Utah Veteran’s Home, ATTN: Recreation (John Frey), 1551 N. Main St., Payson, UT 84651.