BRADENTON, Fla. — Robert Schweiger of Bradenton, knows the value of hard work.
He enjoys cooking dinner each night after working as an options trader during the day, and the 101-year-old said he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. But for him, making it to this age is a miracle of its own.
Schweiger is a Holocaust survivor, but many of his Jewish family members were not as fortunate.
“See that’s my brother, he got killed in the concentration camp,” said Schweiger, pointing at his family tree.
He and his family escaped Austria when he was just 16, and eventually they made it to Detroit, Michigan.
“Between my mother and I, we had $7 in our pocket,” said Schweiger.
But just a few years after finding refuge on American soil Schweiger was drafted into WWII, sent back to the land he escaped from, and facing death yet again as one of the first groups to arrive at Normandy on D-Day.
“We were on Omaha Beach, you know, take the shovel, dig in a little bit to hide. You’d swear that the plane you see up there can see you in that fox hole,” said Schweiger.
The highly decorated WWII veteran escaped Europe with his life for a second time.
Before moving to Bradenton in the 70s, Schweiger became a successful businessman in the Detroit auto industry. He had a family and was happily married to his sweetheart for 78 years until she passed away just a few years ago.
“I still miss her just terribly. They say it’s going to get a little better but it really doesn’t get better, she was part of my life,” said Schweiger.
Despite his loss, the World War II hero, Holocaust survivor, and refugee knows something about perseverance.
“I can appreciate America better than a lot of people can because I was not born here,” said Schweiger.
He said living in this country is a gift he has never taken for granted.
“All the success in the world you can have in this country, nothing is barred from you. Where else in the world can a guy like me with no money and no language become as successful as I have,” said Schweiger.
And the secret to Schweiger’s successful and fruitful life, he said is simple. First, work hard and second:
“Don’t drink any cheap booze, that’ll do you in,” said Schweiger.