GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Sonny Veltre started his stint in the US Army during World War II in Fort Lee, Virginia.
“I was in the cadre, teaching soldiers how to run, swim, hold a rifle, take it apart, put it back together again,” he said.
He was shifted around stateside: Fort Hancock, Fort Dix, and other spots all this at only 18 years old. While many were deployed overseas, men like Sonny stayed stateside filling critical positions.
“I showed them hand-to-hand combat and all that stuff,” he said.
After Sonny left the service, he and his family opted to live life on the sweeter side.
“Oh we had a bakery– a bakery,”
Veltre Bakery first opened in the 1930’s. Sonny eventually took over the operation, an Italian mainstay for decades in Rochester. After retirement, his career took another turn at the Northwest Family YMCA in Greece.
“When I first came here, I started teaching kids how to swim,” he said.
He then started teaching older folks to remedy arthritis — also taking on a Livestrong position to help those battling cancer. A bit different from his cadre combat teaching days– but these certainly had a similar cadence.
“And then I got to be a lifeguard when I was 70. And then I retired when I was 90,” he said.
Sonny saved four souls from drowning while a lifeguard. At 96, Sonny’s still kicking like a local resurrected version of Jack LaLanne. He said the secret is to keep moving. Don’t ask him about eating healthy, though.
“I eat whatever’s around. Hotdog, hamburger, piece of pizza,” said Sonny laughing.