Oldest living Marine in state to celebrate 100th
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Veteran Edwin Silvey lived in Barstow
July 26, 2009 - 9:41 AM
By EUNICE LEE, staff writer

Former Barstow resident Edwin Silvey has accomplished a long and varied list of things in life.

In his late 20s, Silvey held a brief stint as a boxer.

He fought in the Philippines as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.

He worked side-by-side with his father and grandfather at a painting company.

And all the while, he raised a family.

On Tuesday, Silvey, who has been recognized as the oldest living Marine in California for more than 10 years, will celebrate his 100th birthday.

Silvey’s daughter, Barstow resident Donna Weber, said that once her father reached his mid-90s in age, he promised he’d make it to 100-years-old.

Silvey, who currently resides at the Chula Vista Veterans Home of California in San Diego, lived at the Barstow Veterans Home of California for about seven years before being transferred to Chula Vista for specific medical care, said grandson Robert Weber. Donna and her four children — who live in Barstow — will be traveling to Chula Vista on Tuesday to hand deliver a cake shaped and decorated like a “100” and to celebrate the milestone birthday with Silvey. Due to some loss of hearing, according to his daughter, Silvey was unavailable for a phone interview from the veterans home in San Diego.

Silvey — known as “papa” to his daughter and grandchildren — has worn his title of the oldest Marine in the state like a badge of honor, according to Donna.

“It’s one thing in his life that he’s really, really proud of,” she said.

Silvey was born on July 28, 1909, in Sedalia, Missouri. He joined the Marines at age 32 and was soon sent overseas to fight in World War II. According to Richard Troutman, chaplain of the Barstow Veterans Home, who befriended the soon-to-be centenarian when he first moved into the home, Silvey was known as a straight-arrow.

He always dressed himself well and didn’t have any vices, Troutman said.

Silvey enjoyed having newspaper stories read to him and discussing current events, said Troutman.

“I think he was more of a serious-minded kind of person,” he said. But when it came to being honored as a Marine, Troutman said, “He was obviously pretty humble about the whole thing, but when you see the big old smile on his face ... you knew that it meant a lot to him.”

On Tuesday, the Chula Vista Veterans Home will throw a party to recognize Silvey where a group of Marines from the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego pay him a visit. He will also be presented with an honorary plaque, Donna said.

Silvey has one daughter, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 96,548 centenarians in the U.S. as of Nov. 1, 2008.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com