Lehi man celebrates 100th birthday

Dec 26, 2022, 3:43 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 4:23 pm

LEHI, Utah — It’s always a big deal whenever another trip around the sun is celebrated, especially when a milestone is met.

William Van Werkhoven is celebrating both a birthday and a milestone: turning 100 years old.

As a family man, war hero and sailor, he has lived and is living a lot of life.

While this year he said he wants to keep things quiet, there is always room to share — and sing — “Happy Birthday” in the Dutch rendition.

“It was nice when I was 99, so when people asked me, ‘How old are you?,’ I’d say I’m 66 reversed. But what do I do now?” Van Werkhoven said.

Turning 100 years young, William Van Werkhoven, who answers to Will for short, is living proof that some things never change.

“Will always called me ‘lovie’ for some reason,” Darlene Stice Van Werkhoven said.

Darlene will tell you Will is her best friend.

Getting better with age, their love for one another is one for the books.

“The name Darlene is so official, so I thought, ‘Yeah, my love,’ so we said lovie,” Will said.

Will and Darlene. Darlene and Will. They are both sailors who have charted their way through a lot of life together.

“We’ve sailed all over the East Coast of the United States and South on the waterway,” Darlene said.

Land ho in Lehi, Will is flipping the pages of his life, which is neatly highlighted through photos and achievements.

“Here’s another picture,” Will said. “A bloody long history.”

Growing up on the water in the Netherlands, by the time he was 17 years old, World War II was getting underway.

“I was a sergeant there, because after that, I was shot,” Will said.

Dodging being taken into Hitler’s Youth Group, he took part in the beginning of the underground Dutch Resistance by lending a hand to many seeking shelter.

He eventually gained recognition, including being awarded a Purple Heart.

“It means people stay up,” Will said.

Holland. Canada. Then, a year later, he put his anchor down in America, where he raised his family and sailed with his lovie, Darlene.

“We have seen that boat built when we were on vacation in Holland,” Will said.

While he doesn’t sail like he used to, he and Darlene still have pages to fill with stories.

“That’s what I’ve been working on, you know? And still working on,” he said.

Will is still up and moving in style with his walker, what Darlene said he calls “his Cadillac.”

“Yeah, I miss sailing. That was my last sailboat,” Will said.

Darlene said she and Will have lived out many of their dreams together.

“You know people talk about their bucket list,” Darlene said. “Will and I have done many things we could check off. It was a bucket list item, but you didn’t know it at the time, and now you look back on your life, you see.”

It’s a life smooth sailing and worth celebrating.

“Hi hip hoorah!” Will said.

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Lehi man celebrates 100th birthday