MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As a man in his 90s, Rollie Daniel defied the odds. He regularly played softball, tennis and even volleyball with his retired buddies.
“He would go five days a week to play whatever they were playing,” said his wife, Connie Daniel.
Rollie worked for his father’s company in New York as a young man, making prosthetics for people who had lost limbs.
That is when he met his wife, a customer who needed stockings for her prosthetic legs.
“He was so interested in his work,” Connie said.
She says as they considered marriage, Rollie was very open about his previous marriage and his devotion to his children.
“He said, ‘You’re acquiring a package. I come with my three children,’ and that was very fine,” Connie said.
But what Rollie didn’t like to talk about was his military service, and what he did to earn a Purple Heart and many other honors.
“He really didn’t say that much about any of his service,” Connie said.
On June 6, 1944, Pvt. Rollie Daniel was one of the United States Army paratroopers who dropped from the skies over Normandy, France as part of the D-Day Invasion.
He fought German troops for the next 34 days. Most of his fellow soldiers never made it back home.
Rollie talked to WCCO in 2014, just before he returned to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
“My gunner was injured right away, so I became the machine gunner, which was not a good position,” Rollie said.
His daughter, Julie Guldberg-Rollie, believes his combat experience shaped his values.
“I have three kids and now I have three grandkids, and he loved all of them,” Julie said. “It was family. It was so important to him.”
Julie says her father often said, “Every day after World War II was a great day.”
Rollie Daniel died on March 31. A celebration of his life is planned for May 5.
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