101-year-old World War II veteran from East Oak Lane dies after battle with COVID-19

A 101-year-old World War II veteran from Philadelphia died late last month after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Willie Jenkins, of East Oak Lane, was laid to rest at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. Due to social distancing guidelines, there was no customary honor guard to send off the war hero and guests were asked to stand away from the grave.

Jenkins died after he spent a week on a ventilator, according to his family.

"No time is good to pass but this was the absolute worst time," granddaughter Nina Jenkins said. "The thought of thinking of him being alone and feeling alone is horrible."

Willie was not alone often, he lived with Nina and spent countless hours with his evergrowing family. Willie enjoyed a 73-year marriage that came to an end last summer when his wife passed away. 

Described as the "king of cool" Willie spent his elder days in retirement watching westerns, boxing matches and his favorite Philadelphia sports teams. 

Nina says her grandfather often shared war stories from his time in Europe serving as a radio operator in the 92nd division.

"He lived through segregation, Jim Crowe, the civil rights movement," Nina said "He was amazed that he got to live to see a black president, President Obama, he never thought he would see that."

Now his family of four generations is heartbroken that they couldn't give their proud patriarch the military funeral he deserved. They could not even visit Willie during his last moments.

"I think that's the hardest part about this, that you can not be with your loved one in their darkest hour," Nina said.


CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

Resources to help you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic

Where to get tested for COVID-19 in the Philadelphia area

How COVID-19 has impacted Delaware Valley so far

Interactive map tracks spread of COVID-19 globally


For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.