Hopkins WWII veteran turns 100, shares secret to longevity

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Al Sweet, a beloved West Metro man, is celebrating a major milestone.

The World War II veteran doesn’t look it, but Tuesday marks his 100th birthday.

“I can’t believe I’m this old. It doesn’t feel any different than the day before, but I’m happy to be alive and feeling well,” Sweet said.  

He credits his music for getting him this far. He’s played the trombone most of his life. With age, he’s not able to play the way he used to, but his musical mind is as sharp as ever.

“Music is captivating. It covers all other languages. You can play it in German. You can play it in French. It’s all the same music,” said Sweet.

Sweet has 10 compositions professionally published – a passion he didn’t pursue until he was 89.

Steve Lyons, conductor of the St. Louis Community Band, encouraged Sweet to publish his first composition.

“There’s this joy in his music. That’s really what it boils down to … it comes from the inside out for him,” said Lyons.

“Al is so passionate about music and sharing his gifts and talents with the world. He doesn’t even think about how much joy he’s bringing others, but he’s got that mission and passion, and he’s got more to say. I think that’s one of the things that helps keep him going.”

Sweet’s publications are also a feat not many can say they’ve accomplished, according to Lyons: “Every single piece that he’s written. Which is an amazing track record when you think about published authors. Who gets every book published, right?”

Al’s pieces have been played at the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago, and the publications are sold all over the country.

“Never thought I’d end up with this many publications, but I’m happy I did,” Sweet said. “I just kept writing different things and submitting them, and they got published, for which I was very thankful and happy about. It’s not hard work. It’s fun. It’s fun to be creative. See how things work out, try different things.”

It’s that joy that carries Al and also keeps him writing music. He says he doesn’t plan to slow down.

“It’s important to keep your interests up in life, something to get up for every day. For me, it’s music,” Sweet said.

He says people should keep a positive attitude and look for the better things in life.

“Other than that, God takes care of the rest,” Sweet added.

Lyons said positivity flows through Al’s music.

“Al has this delightful character in his pieces. Everything puts a smile on your face. What I can say about Al’s music is written by a good man and it’s enjoyed by all people,” Lyons said.