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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘A salt-of-the-earth guy’: Spokane lifer, COVID-19 survivor and WWII vet honored for his 100th birthday

Raymond Foss, a lifelong Spokane resident and World War II veteran who turned 100 on Thursday, waves to members of the American Legion Riders Spokane as they parade past him Saturday in front of the North Point Retirement Community. Because COVID-19 lockdowns shut down the nursing home where Foss lives, loved ones organized a drive-by celebration for the centenarian.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Many things have tried and failed to take out Raymond Foss: World War II, COVID-19 lockdowns, an actual coronavirus infection and everything else that comes with living 100 years on planet Earth.

Nothing has stood a chance against Foss, who turned 100 years old Thursday. On Saturday, he got some well-deserved recognition from the Spokane community.

American Legion Riders Spokane, a motorcycle group dedicated to honoring military veterans, along with Spokane firefighters, drove by Foss’s nursing home with motorcycles, a fire truck and American flags waving all around.

“We want to make sure people like Raymond aren’t forgotten,” said Richard Gulling, a motorcyclist with American Legion Riders Spokane.

Ava Selinksy, a family friend of Foss who notified local groups and organized the event, wanted to make sure the landmark birthday was properly honored with Foss’s nursing home on lockdown due to COVID-19.

Luckily, Foss was able to briefly come outside of the nursing home to take part in the celebration. Selinsky said it’s important that Foss is reminded how special he is to her family and the Spokane community, especially with the return of lockdowns after a long and isolating 18 months for nursing home residents.

“It’s great to put a smile on his face,” Selinsky said.

Foss has spent almost his entire life in Spokane, outside of when he served in the U.S. Army on the European front in World War II, according to Selinksy. He spent his time after the Army as an accountant, family man and voracious dancer in his younger years.

Selinsky met Foss when her sister married his stepson, with the relationship carrying on long after the marriage broke up. Nowadays, Foss is a loved grandfather figure to Selinksy’s two daughters.

“Raymond’s a salt-of-the-earth guy,” Selinsky said. “He’s jovial, always in a good mood.”

When Foss got COVID-19 a few months ago, Selinsky was concerned. But Selinsky said outside of a few coughs and feeling tired, Foss weathered it just like he did every challenge thus far.

Before the motorcyclists left, Foss was awarded an American Legion Challenge coin for his service.

And like any good birthday celebration, Foss got a beautiful cake, with pictures of him as a younger man on top of it to remind him of the remarkable life he has lived.