World War II veteran doesn't slow down, even on 100th birthday

The Purple Heart recipient continues to have a passion for photography, and will proudly show off love letters from his wife on his iPhone.


Ralph Conte's 100th birthday was a major milestone, but to him, age is just a number.

"I never think about it," he said. "I sorta feel the same way every day."

At 100 years old, he doesn't stop moving. Along with his passion for photography, Conte stays busy with regular exercise and walks.

Conte grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey. His father served in World War I, then Conte served for three years in World War II.

"We crossed the channel and we hit Utah beach and the shooting was so bad… It was dark. I had no idea where I was," he recalled a time while serving in France.

After earning a collection of honors and medals, including a Purple Heart, he eventually returned home and opened his own photography studio.

Now in the 21st century, Conte uses his phone to store more than 1,000 letters to and from his late wife during World War II, which his daughter helped digitize. He even acts as tech support when family members have issues with their own phones.

His family said it's not a surprise. He's always been able to fix things.

His home is filled with his collection of photos he took over the years as a professional photographer — from his travels from everywhere to Michigan to China to Maine, and plenty of family photos. His collection includes postcards from his wife's parents, dated as early as 1908.

Conte's collection serves as reminders of a lifetime of memories, and honoring those who have died.

"The saddest part is, I have nobody to call anymore," he said. "They’re all gone."

Though Conte occasionally looks back to the past, he never slows down.

"I just lay in bed, saying, 'What am I gonna do tomorrow?' Then I plan my day," he said.