ROCK ISLAND-- Rolling in on his cardboard train, John Vallejo celebrated his 105th birthday with friends and family December 16, at the Friendship Manor in Rock Island.
“It just feels so good that we were able to come together and do this…It means everything to him,” says his daughter Rose Sedillo.
The railroad themed birthday party commemorated 39 years of working on the Rock Island Railroad.
“After I got to working on the railroad, it was part of my life," say Vallejo, who retired in 1975.
Years earlier, Vallejo was a Golden Gloves Boxer, winning the lightweight championship title in 1932.
“We threw him a boxing themed birthday party for his 103rd birthday,” says Richard Vallejo, John’s eldest son.
This year the John celebrated with his nine adult children, about 20 grand kids and many grandchildren.
“You can see all these people here, you can tell the strong family connection that he’s established. He’s our glue,” says granddaughter Anita Webb.
Building a long and happy life with his wife Cora, a marriage that lasted more than 70 years. She died in 2011 after a long battle with dementia.
“My mother of course was the one that would get us all together and do the celebration… Since (her death) my sisters and brothers have ... made sure that my dad has a wonderful birthday,” says Sedillo.
Cherishing each moments with his loved ones.
Extended video from John's party that didn't make the broadcast due to time constraints: