Veteran, 99, reflects on life of public service

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — At nearly 100 hundred years old today, William “Bill” Iverson started his life as the baby of the family — the youngest of 9.

A courtesy photo of Bill Iverson at the age of 5 in 1926.

“I was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1921.”

Iverson spent his life helping people and it started before his time in the Army.

Before he was drafted, Iverson served in the Civilian Conservation Corp. The CCC was a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Iverson said it was like a replica of the Army and he spent most of the time planting trees.

“We had to get up at a certain time, go to bed at a certain time and we had weekends that were free. We were able to go into the various towns,” Iverson said.

After three or four years, his country came calling again during World War II and put him in a new role with the Red Ball Express.

“We were carrying all kinds of troops and supplies to the front lines where the troops were,” Iverson said.

Most of the members of the Red Ball Express were African American soldiers. As they traveled the streets of Europe, Iverson said they did make some friends along the way.

“There were many people at that time who needed and wanted help from America. And we were willing to give that,” Iverson said.

After World War II, Bill met the love of his life Marie while both working in jobs of service — He as a social worker and she was a nurse.

Iverson spent his career continuing to serve getting his master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, working with youth and street gangs in Cleveland and working at youth centers in Chicago. He later worked as the director of admissions and assistant professor at Wayne State University’s School of Social Work.

“You must believe that you can be helpful, and you must believe that something will happen as a result of that friendship,” Iverson said.

Iverson moved over to this side of the state not too long ago to be closer to his son, Mark.