A long-time Mesa County resident and World War II veteran is getting ready to celebrate a remarkable milestone - his 104th birthday.

Meeting William J. Floryancic

I had the privilege and honor of meeting William "Bill" Floryancic and his daughter, Karen Bell, and talking to them about Bill's life, his military service, and his many years of involvement in the local community. We met in the chapel at the VA in Grand Junction.

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews
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U.S. Veteran In the United States Army

The first thing to know about Bill, ( I asked him if I could call him Bill) is that he is a World War II veteran. He was drafted into the army in 1943, however, he did not pass the physical exam because of his eyesight. A short time later he was working in Utah when Uncle Sam called a second time. This time he was accepted. Bill says in Utah you didn't have to worry about passing a physical exam. If they touched your body and it was warm, you were in.

William John Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
William John Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
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Bill served for three years in the United States Army, with two of the years in New Guinea in the Pacific Theater. Bill remembers there were ships at sea with no escorts and they would turn toward each other so they could be identified as friend or foe. He says at times it was scary. Then there was the time they experienced a typhoon - which made for a shaky three days.

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William J. Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
William J. Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
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Fortunately, Bill did not see combat duty during the war. He returned home in 1946 and was discharged. Remarkably, he's been a member of the American Legion for 70 years.

William J. Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
William J. Floryancic/VA Western Colorado
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Long-Time Grand Valley Resident

Bill has lived in the Grand Valley for most of his life, his family moving to Grand Junction in 1922. Bill graduated from Fruitvale High School in 1936 and got his first experience with Palisade peaches in 1935 when he worked for the United Fruit Growers Association. In 1941, he married Lillian Jenkins and they lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming where he worked in a coal mine for two years prior to being drafted into military service. Lillian passed away in 1989 after 47 years of marriage.

Bill returned to Palisade following his tour of duty and has been a fixture there ever since. He's been there so long he remembers when the streets of Palisade were gravel.

Karen Bell/VA Western Colorado
Karen Bell/VA Western Colorado
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In 1958, Bill got into the grocery business and opened up Bill's Market after having worked previously at Bancroft's Grocery on the east side of Main Street. When Bancroft's was forced to close, Bill made a bid of $1500 for the property and got it. Over the years, the store went through many changes before being sold to Kelly Myers in 1987.

Amazing Community Service in Palisade

When you talk about somebody who has served his community, Bill Floryancic is a shining example.

* Member of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce since 1959, serving twice as president

* Palisade Lions Club member since 1960, twice serving as president, Lion of the Year three times, and receiving the Melvin Jones Award - the highest award in lionism, plus received the Colorado Lions Foundation Humanitarian Award, and the Ann Sullivan Award twice

* Associated Grocers of Colorado board member for 10 years

* Affiliated Trading Company board member for 10  years

 * Mesa Valley School District 51 board member for 6 years

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews
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Up until a year ago, Bill was living at home with in-home care, but now resides at the VA where he is able to receive twice-daily visits from his daughter Karen. She says he is receiving excellent care from the caring staff, but wishes she could have more up-close moments with her father - without COVID restrictions.

While Bill celebrates his 104th birthday on March 9, on behalf of all Mesa County residents I was able to thank him for his service to the country and to the local community. I also told him we are so proud of him, and how happy we are to honor him during this special time of celebration.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.