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World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday

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Lowell Hughes sits with his birthday cake Saturday during his 100th birthday celebration at the Country Club Road Church of Christ. The World War II veteran and former business owner turned 100 years old on Oct. 12. (Alex Ross Photo)

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People of all ages flocked to the Country Club Road Church of Christ Saturday to celebrate the 100th birthday of a local man.

Lowell Hughes, a World War II veteran and retired business owner, officially turned 100 years old Oct. 12. Loved ones joined him Saturday for a catered meal of Mexican food and cake, and a PowerPoint presentation with black and white photos that touched on his life.

“I don’t feel 100. I just woke up one morning and I was 100,” Hughes said.

Nonetheless, he is well aware of the significance of the milestone and that it is a great accomplishment, given that most people don’t reach that age. He said he is thankful that God has allowed him to live to be 100.

Hughes outlived both his wives and never had any children of his own, yet on Saturday the nieces, nephews, cousins and generations of family joined with friends, neighbors and other well-wishers far and near to celebrate the milestone. Each guest walked up to Hughes, as he sat on his electric scooter, to greet him and talk for a few moments.

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When looking around the room, he marveled at the size of the crowd, which he estimated at somewhere between 70 and 80.

“I guess this is the highlight of my life, having this many people here,” he said.

Lynn Taylor, Hughes’ niece, said that her uncle has always been an important part of her own life.

“I have lived next door to him or in the same city as him forever, and when my dad died, he was just like a second father,” she said.

Hughes was born on a farm in Oklahoma. He said that he first came to Roswell at age 18 to visit his sisters and their families, and decided to adopt what was then a small town as his home.

“For me it was a good choice,” he said.

Knowing that he would likely be drafted, Hughes enlisted in the United States Army and spent more than 500 days in battle. One of the most vivid memories for Hughes was when he and other members of the Army helped liberate the prisoners at the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945.

“It’s a miracle to me that many of these prisoners went on to live their full lives after that, but many did,” Hughes said.

The horrific scenes of human suffering at Dachau, he said, made him realize how important it is for people to love each other, even when they do not want to.

Later Hughes would return to Roswell, where he worked as a mechanic before he founded Hughes Electric Supplies in 1963. He would retire in 1988.

When asked what advice he would give to someone looking to live to 100, Hughes said they should get a good doctor, do what that doctor says, not smoke and keep their consumption of alcohol to a minimum.

“That is what I have done in my life and I think it helped me attain 100 years,” Hughes said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.