Lexington – WWII veteran Ray Painter of Lexington, the man who received thousands of birthday cards this year on his 100th birthday has died, according to the Mayflower assisted living facility.
The Mayflower announced Painters passing on its Facebook page.
"With great sadness and a heavy heart today we lost a hero, Ray Painter. As I think back on the memories of Ray I almost have to chuckle. He was a comedian. As we celebrated his 100th birthday with the world, he loved every minute of it. He often said 'I'm famous'. Ray you will forever hold a place in so many hearts . Fly high," the post read.
The Lexington World War II veteran celebrated his birthday Sunday, May 5 with more than 7,500 cards. They came from all 50 states and countries such as England, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
The cards came rolling in after The Mayflower posted a picture on Facebook asking for cards in mid-April. The picture has since been shared thousands of times.
"This feels wonderful," Painter said to 10 News on his birthday. "It makes me feel a whole lot younger than I am."
Some people sent Painter more than cards. He received several mementos relating to his Army service, and someone sent him a very special pair of socks.
"Somebody put my picture on them and mailed them to me," Painter said. "I don't know how I got them."
Painter's son, Thad, told 10 News then that he's grateful his dad's wish could bring the country together in a small way.
Ray Painter's hometown of Lexington also declared May 5 Ray Painter Day in his honor.