WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Over the weekend, we lost a Wichita Falls viral sensation who not only captivated the state, the nation, but also the world when turning 100 in 2019.
The man seen by millions, GI Joe Cuba passed away at the age of 102 and his lasting impact will live on with so many who know his story.
We are now coming up on three years since Joe Cuba became a star and those who knew him best say that’s exactly what he was.
“You know for me, I would come in and ask him if he’d come to exercise or play bingo with us and he’d say, ‘um, yeah, I think I could do that,'” Brookdale Midwestern Senior Living Solutions Sales Manager Stephanie Veitenheimer said.
GI Joe Cuba was one of a kind resident at Brookdale Midwestern.
“He would talk about how your days been, you know, he would just give you that good energy and just make your day and like you said, his smile. He just never complained,” Veitenheimer said.
Cuba saw more than most could even imagine. Enlisting in the army in 1943 and serving as a staff sergeant in World War II.
“He’s a strong American hero. I mean, look what he endured in WWII. So you know, we look back and think, you know he was in pain but he never wanted to show it so his smile is what we’ll miss the most around here,” Veitenheimer said.
Those are the qualities that Veitenheimer says are why the nation gravitated towards Cuba when his birthday request went viral in 2019.
“And I said well how about 100 birthday cards? And, he said, ‘I love that idea,’ and I said okay we’re going to make that happen,” Veitenheimer said. “I just walked across the hall and found a piece of paper and made the sign and next thing I know it took off.”
Soon, hundreds then thousands would see.
“Just talking about it just gives me chills again,” Vetienheimer said.
Great moments that’s lasted well beyond Cuba’s 100th birthday.
“I don’t know the words to describe it, the whole world like pitched in and helped. He had gotten over 90,000 cards and gifts and stuff and I just want to thank everybody for sharing his story and following his story on Facebook and the news stations, it just means the world to us and his family,” Veitenheimer said.
Giving family and friends the chance to see Cuba garner that well-deserved viral fame into his triple digits as his impact will live on forever.
GI Job Cuba’s graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, at Sacred Heart Cemetery here in Wichita Falls.