A hero then and a hero now
In May 2021, retired U.S. Army Corporal Cecil Lockhart was laid to rest with full military honors in recognition of his service during World War II.
At his death at age 95, Cecil’s heroism didn’t just continue, it broke the record. Cecil became the oldest organ donor in U.S. history when he gave the gift of life to a liver transplant patient 30 years his junior.
“Just as he fought for our country’s freedom 75 years ago in World War II, he would be proud to know that he’s fighting for someone else today, as an organ donor,” said Cecil’s son-in-law Bill during his eulogy.
Cecil grew up in a large family in Short Pole, West Virginia. For more than five decades, he proudly worked as a coal miner. He was known as a big-hearted, animal-loving man with an easy smile and warm hugs for those he loved.
He was married to his “best girl,” Helen, for 75 years, raised two children, welcomed three grandchildren and delighted in being Paw-Paw to his six great-grandchildren.
Following the death of his son, Stanley, in 2010, Cecil was moved to register as an organ donor. In his grief, he found comfort knowing Stanley had healed the lives of 75 people through tissue donation and restored sight to two others through cornea donation.
“Cecil was a generous person when he was alive, and we are filled with pride and hope knowing that, even after a long, happy life, he is able to continue that legacy of generosity,” Cecil’s daughter, Sharon, said. “And today, knowing his life is continuing through others really is helping us through our grief, too.”
A lasting legacy
Cecil’s record-setting donation is important, not only for the transplant it made possible but also as an example that donors can be of any age.
At his funeral, Cecil’s family encouraged attendees to register as organ, eye and tissue donors in Cecil’s memory and in recognition of his lifesaving gift, creating yet one more way that his legacy will continue to live well beyond his 95 years.
*Photos courtesy of the Lockhart Family and Centers for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE)