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Reston resident Sam Beckley just celebrated his 100th birthday.

He was born May 17, 1912, just one month and two days after the R.M.S. Titanic infamously went down.

When the Wall Street crash of 1929 sent the country into the Great Depression, he was 17.

But according to Beckley, his family was not affected much.

“I was already a poor country boy,” he said. “We couldn’t have gotten much poorer. We lived in a small northern Kentucky town where my father was a tenant farmer, and I was literally born in a laborer’s shack.”

Today, Beckley and his wife of 73 years, Elizabeth, live in the Sunrise at Reston Town Center assisted-living center. According to Elizabeth Beckley, 95, the two were high school sweethearts. “And we have just been together ever since,” she said.

Asked what first attracted her to her husband, Elizabeth Beckley wryly answered “I have no idea.”

The Beckleys were married July 29, 1939 in Finchville, Ky., two months before World War II began in Europe. Both already had graduated from Eastern Kentucky University, and Sam eventually signed up as a second lieutenant with the United States Army Air Corps, the precursor to the U.S. Air Force. He eventually achieved the rank of major.

“I never went overseas,” he said. “I was stationed in a variety of locations stateside, but I did my part.”

After the war, Sam Beckley went to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I was a general clerk,” he said. “At some point I was the Director of Paperwork Management.”

At the height of the war in 1944, while stationed in Miami, the Beckleys welcomed a daughter, Alice, to the family. She, too, now lives in Reston. Today the Beckleys have both grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“My husband and I live nearby, but my parents still live together and get along fantastically,” Alice said. “They really are inseparable.”

At Sunrise, that fact is common knowledge.

“They are so devoted to each other, still like newlyweds,” said Gail Saour, activities and volunteer coordinator for the center. “It is amazing how much in love they are.”

Family friend Caroline Melnykovich, whose mother lives at the center with the Beckleys, agrees.

“They are the most incredible loving couple,” she said during Sam’s 100-year birthday bash.

Surprisingly, Sam is not the senior member of the group.

“We have at least one other person here who is 104,” said Saour. “And we recently had someone who was 107.”

“We will get there,” said Sam Beckley. “I expect everyone to be at those birthday parties too.”

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com