MESA, AZ — One of the grand marshals at Thursday’s Veteran’s Day parade in Mesa was a 101-year-old veteran with a laundry list of accomplishments and an even bigger family, but getting him in the parade was a distant thought just a few weeks prior.
As Oakley Ray was trying to get out of bed, he slipped and broke a femur bone.
He called 911 from the floor of his Mesa home and he was rushed to the hospital.
Family said doctors suggested hospice care, but they may not be familiar with Oakley’s resilience.
The 101-year-old WWII veteran wouldn’t allow an innocent fall to be the reason to stop living - so he had surgery and recovered.
”As far as I’m concerned, I was still wanting to live and accomplish whatever the Lord wanted me to do,” he said surrounded by family.
In his over a century of life, he’s already accomplished a lot.
Standing at six foot, Oakley was an ASU basketball player on scholarship when the college was a teaching college. That education allowed him to be a payroll officer for the Navy.
He shared a story recalling picking up $500,000 in cash to pay his fellow service members on the ship.
”It was a lot of money, I thought ‘what if I took off,’” he said with a smile on his face, surrounded by family laughing along.
That sense of humor stayed with him when he became an attorney, an accountant but most importantly a family man.
He and his late wife had 12 kids which then led to 88 grandkids.
Some family flew in from around the country to be at the parade on Thursday and take in a little of Oakley’s tough love.
“I’m mighty proud of this family, but I still think they can do better,” he said continuing to keep his family laughing along.
When we asked his trick for a long, full life – the 101-year-old told us to treat others as you want to be treated and to remember to help those in need.
” That’s just the way I was brought up,” he said.
Editor's note: Oakley is seen wearing a Marine hat during this story, but was indeed a member of the Navy. He tells ABC15 he recently misplaced his Navy hat and borrowed the Marine hat from a friend.