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100-year-old World War II veteran shares his story of survival at Cleveland Clinic

Felix Pasteris is a decorated veteran of WWII. His courageous battles against prostate cancer and COVID-19 have earned him recognition from Cleveland Clinic.

CLEVELAND — Felix Pasteris celebrated a very special birthday this year.

He is 100 years old.

Pasteris has been through quite a journey. He joined the U.S. Army Air Forces just three weeks after graduating high school. He served in WWII and received a number of awards, including a Bronze Star Medal and three Presidential Medals during his five years of service.

A simple “thank you” message has offered Pasteris comfort over the years.

“Now that I’ve been around for a few years, it’s really rewarding to me,” said Pasteris. “I was sort of a nobody. I put in my five years, and I went through hell. I just look back and think, 'well, you did your part. And you’re here.'”

Several challenges have also surfaced over the last few years. Pasteris has battled prostate cancer and even COVID-19.

“I hung my head over the bed and the nurses all came in and started hollering,” said Pasteris. “I said, ‘I’m okay, don’t worry. But then I said, ‘I was going to die.’ But then, I sort of woke up.”

After spending 16 days at the Cleveland Clinic, he slowly regained his strength and learned to walk again. His courageous battles earned him recognition from Cleveland Clinic. The clinic’s Volunteer Services Program honors veterans in hospice care. 

“I’m pretty happy right now. And I’m happy in bed more than any other place because I don’t want to get out of bed. I love my bed.”  

Pasteris enjoys a little humor. He even made a note that he has something in common with Cleveland Clinic. Both are celebrating their centennial this year.

For Pasteris, it’s the little moments that offer him happiness and joy. His advice to find the key to life?

“If you’re happy on what you’re doing, keep it up. It might be the simplest thing in the world, but you’re happy doing it. That’s the key.”

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