Community members, friends and family members gathered at Sweet Brook in Williamstown on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the 100th birthday of the oldest World War II veteran in Berkshire County, Foster Nystrom.
"I think it's terrific," Joyce Powell, Foster's youngest daughter, said about the event. Nystrom added that he thought it was very nice and well-planned.
Family members from all over the map, including Ohio, Chicago and Maine, came for the party. Among them were Nystrom's three children: Powell, his oldest daughter Cynthia McFarland, and his son, Paul Nystrom.
The celebration began with a reading of the citation presented to Nystrom when he was awarded the Bronze Medal in 1945 for his service during World War II.
During World War II, Nystrom was a master sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division, where he trained dogs and served as a draftsman. While in northern Italy, he created handmade topographical sand maps for generals, including a sand map for a main battlefield. He spent seven months in Italy and received a bronze star for the work he did.
Besides being a sergeant, Nystrom was a watercolor artist who painted for approximately 50 years. He started as an illustrator at Rust Craft Card Company in Boston, and has served as associate director at the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln.
Nystrom was also a teacher; he served as head of the museum school, where he taught adult watercolor classes, started the Lower Cape School of Art in Cape Cod, and taught classes at the Cape Cod Conservatory of Art.
Nystrom moved to Cape Cod in the early ‘70s and during Saturday's celebration, he reminisced about his home there, with its big barn and antique cars, revealing that a hobby of his had been restoring English cars, including a Pierce-Arrow.
"That's what he used to cruise around Boston in," Paul Nystrom told the audience.
Nystrom, who was born on March 29, 1913 in Waltham, Mass. can't pinpoint a favorite memory or time in his century of life.
"I can't pick out a particular time and place," Nystrom, who swapped jokes and stories with his friends and family throughout the afternoon, said. "It seems everything I've done since I was a child has been meaningful."
He described it as a process of gradually improving.
"You don't start out being an artist," he explained. "You have a desire to be an artist."
Along with his three children, Nystrom also has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He loves dogs and sports cars, has enjoyed skiing and hiking, and was the recipient of the first Sweet Brook Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
The audience sang happy birthday to Foster, who joined in on the song, and he was presented with a book of family photos by his daughter-in-law, Suzy Nystrom.
The book showcased different eras of his life and included pictures of his mother and grandmother.
"He's a remarkable person," she said. "There's no one like him. His mind is so sharp."