By Janine Puhak
Published May 31, 2019
A cup of patriotism, coming on up.
Navy veteran Bob Sargent has held many important roles through his 94-years of life: World War II serviceman, an escort to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference, father of five, pastor, electrician and more. Lately, the nonagenarian – affectionately nicknamed “Sarge” – says that his latest gig is bringing him a whole lot of joy: working as a barista in his family’s coffee shop in North Carolina.
“It's an outlet. It's my privilege,” Sargent told ABC 11 of his part-time job. “I like to mingle with people."
The man joined the staff at Salvation Coffee Company in Burlington, which is owned by his granddaughter and grandson, soon after it opened about a year ago, WXII 12 reports. According to Sargent, the steaming smells of coffee stir up many old memories.
"The thing I like about coffee here is that it’s strong," he remarked. "In the Navy they made me coffee in a copper. It was a steam kettle that big.”
Born on a farm in Michigan, Sargent joined the Navy at age 17 and worked as a machinist mate on the Imperial, WXII reports. In 1945, he was selected for an elite assignment: escorting then-President Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference as a member of the color guard. At the famous meeting, FDR, U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin discussed the future of postwar Europe.
After the war ended, Sargent returned stateside, got married and started a family. He worked at GM in Flint for 31 years, became a pastor, and later managed a housing development at Elon University, ABC 11 reports. In addition to his duties at the coffee shop, he also keeps busy as a handyman.
Though he’s previously tried to retire, Sargent said that the lifestyle wasn’t a good fit.
“It didn't fit my pistol at all. I can't stand to do nothing!" he joked. In a larger sense, the man credits much of his vim and vigor to his strong Christian faith.
"He filled me with joy one time and it never dimmed," he told WXII. "I’m running on joy."
As for his barista job, Sargent said that the rhythm of Salvation Coffee agrees with him.
"I get my coffee free. And a chance to meet a lot of people," he told WXII.