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Shawnee's Bill Rapp celebrates 100th birthday with surprise parade

Elisabeth Slay
William Rapp's friends and family celebrated his 100th birthday with a parade Thursday, April 9 in front of his office.

Husband, father, grandfather and World War II veteran William Rapp celebrated his one hundredth birthday with a surprise parade from his family and friends Thursday, April 9.

According to Rapp, he was born in 1920 and he moved to Oklahoma City in 1932 where he lived there for six months before moving to Shawnee.

"I've lived here ever since except for the two years I fought in World War II. I fought over there in Germany," Rapp said.

Rapp said in 1942 he served in the 397 Field Artillery Battalion and Service Battery and he landed in France when he was first fought in the war. Rapp said he and 45 other men drove vehicles to the 10th Armored Division.

Rapp also explained he went through France, Germany and Austria, before he ended up in Czechoslovakia where he and his fellow servicemen met with Russian soldiers.

“We all thought we were going to go to the Pacific, but the war ended and the president dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese and we were all glad that the war ended,” Rapp said.

The veteran said he returned to Shawnee in 1945 and he and his high school sweetheart Emaline Forbes, whom he married before the war, started their family and had three children Sharon Wade, Karen Vermelis and William Turner Rapp the Third.

After he returned home, Rapp explained he took over the family business.

"I went into the drilling business. My father was a drilling contractor...and then later I joined...Sooner Drilling," Rapp said. "Then (in 1966) I was involved in finding the First State Bank (in Shawnee). I had that for 32 years."

Rapp said he and his business partner sold the bank in 2000 and he moved to California for 20 years before returning to Shawnee to be with his daughters.

"I built my home right here about 45 years ago and I've been here ever since," Rapp said.

Rapp said his wife Emaline passed away in 1992 at the age of 72 and his son William died in a helicopter crash.

The veteran said together he and his late wife have eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren who are all doing well.

The father of three said one of his greatest joys in life are his family and though there has been loss and tragedy in his life, it has been a good one.

"I just cant believe how beautiful these kids are. I'm in love with all of them. I've got lots of wonderful friends...and I still feel good and I hope I make it a little bit further and it has been a wonderful life," Rapp said.