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100-year-old Des Moines man: 'Life is still important'

Robert Reyes turned 100 on Wednesday, May 5.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Robert Reyes has lived quite the life. His family immigrated from Argentina in the early 1900s, settling in Des Moines "because my mother didn't like Chicago," he said.

The World War II veteran turned 100 on May 5, celebrating his birthday with a big party full of friends and relatives. He's the last remaining of 11 children in the Reyes family.

Reyes grew up on Des Moines' south side in a house near Lincoln High School. He graduated from Lincoln and soon enlisted in the U.S. Navy, along with five of his brothers, to fight in the war.

Reyes recalls his time shipwrecked and floating in the sea for three days, waiting to be rescued.

"I just kept thinking of how precious life was, and still is," Reyes said. "You don't know who true leaders are until they're faced with death."

After the war, Reyes settled down in Des Moines, building a home on the east side and raising a family with his wife of 75 years.

Reyes is proud of his family and his children, raising them to have respect for others and help strangers out.

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"I treated them like gold, because they are gold. They're a part of me."

You wouldn't know his age by looking at him. 

Reyes still gets around the house with a walker, but goes out to tend to his garden in the spring and summer to keep his mind and body sharp.

"No matter how bad it is, life is still important," Reyes said.

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