101-year-old Virginia man remains inspired by father born into slavery

Posted at 11:04 AM, Jan 08, 2021

CLARKSVILLE, Va. -- In Clarksville, Virginia a pair of bridges move traffic across the Roanoke River. But just down the road in Buffalo Junction, you’ll find another span but no body of water in sight.

It's a bridge to another time.

“I love being where I am from and who I am,” George Sizemore said.

Sizemore turned 101 in November. He has lived nearly every one of those days in the same home.

“We never had a lot of money. But we had a lot of love in the area,” he said.

With the help of oxygen George shares stories of working the family farm.

“There was always something to do,” Mr. Sizemore said. “I think it is the most beautiful life that a man can live, to be born into the country.”

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The man who fought in Battle of the Bulge during WWII married his sweetheart Laura May after the war.

“She was the most beautiful woman in the world,” Sizemore said of his wife who passed away in 2007.

George Sizemore also endured a deeply segregated south. But never let it define him.

“If I can’t come to your house why should anyone want to knock on your door,” he said. “You can’t two wrongs and make it right. You’ve got to let that go.”

He credits his longevity to hard work, strong faith, and good genes.

His father Benjamin was a mountain of a man.

“He could lift anything," Sizemore recalled. "He was 6'6" and 290 pounds."

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Benjamin made quite an impression. Not just because of his stature, but his story.

George’s father was born into bondage in 1858.

“He couldn’t read or write,” Sizemore said.

Big Ben found freedom from slavery at the end of the Civil War.

He was seven years old.

As an adult, Benjamin married, farmed, and bought land.

His son George entered the world when Big Ben was 61.

“Most people wonder why people my age that my dad could be a slave,” Sizemore said.

Growing up he admired his father for never a holding grudge.

“He never spoke of it,” Sizemore said.

Benjamin passed away in 1931 when George was 13 years old.

Ninety years later his dad remained an inspiration.

“[I] wanted to be like him but I didn’t see how I could be that good,” Sizemore said.

The historical significance of being one of the nation’s last living children of a slave isn’t lost on this centenarian.

“Oftentimes I thought about how he overcame something like that,” Sizemore said.

Bridges carry cars and trucks but listen closely, this bridge will whisk you to the distant past.

George Sizemore believed in working hard.

He retired from his construction job at 93.

His story is detailed in the book “Uncle George and Me” written by Bill Sizemore.

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