GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Surrounded by friends and family outside his Watkins Street home, Alfred Charleston celebrated a milestone Friday.
“Today is my 95th birthday,” said Charleston.
Charleston says he’s blessed to see the day.
He was born in 1925 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but moved to West Michigan in 1946 after being stationed in the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“I was afraid but I took the chance because I wanted to live a better life,” said Charleston.
He eventually married his wife, Juanita, and together they raised two kids, Rosie and Donald.
“He’s a trooper and a strong willed man,” said Donald Charleston. “I say this is the last of the great men.”
For how this great man spent his time, Charleston says people could usually find him in front of a microphone alongside “The Gospel Tones”, a singing group Alfred and his wife found in 1963.
They performed in churches, hospitals, wherever, even releasing a few albums along the way.
“We travelled throughout the country and in 1987 we sang for President Regan in Washington D.C.,” said Charleston. “500,000 folks were there and we got blessed.”
But for all Alfred has accomplished, he still wants to do more.
“It ain’t all over yet,” said Charleston. “I’ve got a few more mountains to climb.”
The 95-year-old says West Michiganders can help him do so by helping others.
“We’re not alive just to be alive,” said Charleston. “We’re here to help someone else and I always want to help someone on their way.”