If you were to ask Laura Call to describe her father, Maynard Cottom, she would say he’s ambitious, has no filter and, in his younger days, a workaholic.
She’d also say Cottom’s a fighter, having served in the Navy during World War II, and most recently, testing positive for COVID-19 — and beating it.
Call and other friends and family celebrated Cottom’s 100th birthday Saturday outside of Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Cortland.
The 30 or family and friends were led by Cortland police cruisers in a parade down Kellogg Road, with lights flashing and sirens blaring while other drivers had signs posted or balloons attached to their cars. The cars looped back and went around the parking lot of the center before parking in a back lot.
Family and friends came outside Cottom’s window to wave at him and wish him a happy birthday. They lighted sparklers and released birthday balloons.
“It’s amazing for someone to turn 100 years old and come and celebrate amongst the whole COVID situation to celebrate an amazing man,” granddaughter Susan Recor said.
Cottom joined the Navy in 1944, went into radar school and boarded his ship in Galveston, Texas, Call said. The ship was later retired in New York.
After the war, Cottom worked as a carpenter and helped build all of the barbecue pits for Cortland’s Disabled American Veterans Chapter 153.
Even living at Crown Park, Call said he would give construction advice whenever work was being done there.
She used to visit him every day for lunch, but because of the pandemic, Call said she hadn’t seen Cottom in person since March.
“It’s just really been a void in my life,” she said.
To fill that void, Call has been using Facetime to speak with Cottom.
Even if it was from behind a window, Cottom’s family and friends were happy to see him.
“They’re saying he survived COVID at 99,” nephew Harold White said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”