WWII vet from NJ is turning 100: Special celebration planned in Brick
BRICK — A WWII veteran, who lives in Brick, is about to get the birthday celebration of a lifetime. Frank Spital will celebrate his 100th trip around the sun in September.
But on Saturday, Aug. 27, a huge drive-by birthday tribute for the avid toy maker will take place.
Frank Spital was born in Hillside on Sept. 1, 1922 to Ukrainian immigrants, according to his daughter, Leslie Riccie. He was the 6th child out of eight siblings.
During WWII, Spital was in France and Germany for about four years, where he served as one of the clerks who made sure soldiers received the artillery and other supplies they needed for fighting.
He was married to his wife for 52 years, and had two children, Leslie who lives in Brick and younger brother Tom, who lives in Colorado.
Sadly, Spital is the last surviving sibling, according to Riccie.
The 100th Birthday Drive-by
Riccie said anyone interested in taking part in the celebration will be meeting at the Costco parking lot in Brick at noon on Saturday, Aug. 27. Then, when all the cars are lined up, they will drive past Spital’s house, hooting, hollering, beeping horns, waving, and of course, shouting “Happy Birthday, Frank!”
But the event is growing by the minute. She said it’s a good idea to keep checking the event page on Facebook for any updates and changes.
At last check, there were 164 people who responded that they were attending the drive-by and 556 are interested in attending.
The organizer of the event, Chris Lyle, has been looking for anyone who has classic cars, and motorcycles to participate in the event. Spital is a huge lover of classic cars, so anyone with a classic car, anyone who loves America, and appreciates our veterans are invited to attend, according to Facebook.
Besides family and friends, Riccie said there will be participation from the Brick Township fire and police departments, and interest from many motorcycle clubs.
How did it all start?
Spital just moved to Brick a year ago, having lived in Hillside and Kenilworth. Riccie said her dad loves woodworking and making toys. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was not much for him to really do or places to go, Spital spent a great deal of time making a ton of toys.
Last June, the Lake Riviera community in Brick decided to have a garage sale. So, Riccie set up a table in the driveway so her father could sell his masterpieces.
She said he did very well selling the toys. Lyle took quite an interest in Spital and the toys. After the men spoke for about 45 minutes and learned so much about each other, Lyle told Riccie he wanted to do something special for Spital’s upcoming 100th birthday, to celebrate not only the man but his service to this great country.
She said it was Lyle’s idea to create the Facebook page, and encourage motorcycle clubs, classic car clubs, township departments, and whoever else is interested to come out on Aug. 27 and celebrate Spital.
Pier 281 Marina in Brick is helping with the drive-by celebration.
“Anybody who wants to participate, I am letting the neighborhood know beforehand what to expect because it’s going to be a little bit disruptive, I expect,” Riccie said.
This is not a surprise. Riccie said her dad is well aware of the celebration. She said he is humbled and overwhelmed. After reading all the comments on Facebook about the birthday drive-by, Spital told his daughter how nice everyone is and even asked her, “Why would anyone want to do this for me?”
She said he’s such a sweetheart and celebrating 100 years on Earth is just amazing to her.
Riccie said her dad credits several factors for his longevity.
“He is always working, always doing something, keeping his mind active and his body active. He rides his stationary bike every morning and he has his glass of Scotch every night,” she laughed.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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