HomeNewsNew Jersey Community Raises $157K for WWII Veteran Who Lost His Home in a Fire

New Jersey Community Raises $157K for WWII Veteran Who Lost His Home in a Fire

by Suzanne Halliburton
Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Paul Roberts, a WWII veteran from New Jersey, desperately wants to rebuild his old home after he lost almost everything he owned in a fire last month. And thanks to generous folks giving to a GoFundMe campaign, Roberts may get his improbable wish. So far, the campaign has raised more than $157,000 to help this 94-year-old former Marine and mailman rebuild his life.

At a Glance

  • Paul Roberts’ home burned down on March 14
  • A GoFundMe page has raised more than $157,000
  • Friends in town also have given him food, clothes, gift cards

“He’s the whole neighborhood,” neighbor Richard Obermayer said of Roberts. His daughter created the GoFundMe. “He’s like the mayor.”

The GoFundMe set up for the New Jersey WWII veteran states:

“Paul is one of the most positive people we have ever and will ever meet. He says, ‘Well, I wake up every morning, I can either be happy or not. I might as well decide to be happy.’ Still, after having his house destroyed, he has a smile on his face.

“Paul is a truly humble, independent, wonderful person. But for the first time in his life, he needs the help and support of those around him. We are asking that you donate whatever you can, even just a dollar, to help our dear friend. More importantly, whether or not you are not able to donate, we are asking that you share this story with all of your friends and family. Thank you very much for your time.”

You can check out the GoFundMe page here.

WWII Lived In New Jersey Community for Almost 40 Years

The house fire started the night of March 14. Roberts was getting ready for bed. He’d just showered and was shaving when he noticed smoke coming under the door. Roberts opened the door and only saw black, so he assumed his power was out. Instead, it was a fire. He managed to drop to the floor and escape via the back door. The fire destroyed everything but some photo albums.

Roberts had the home insured. But because the house was more than 100 years old, construction was out of code. He quickly was told that he must tear down the house. So that’s why he’s hoping to rebuild it.

“Paul would like to be able to end his time here on earth in his favorite place,” his friends said on GoFundMe. “We are hoping with crowdsource funding, we can give him the resources to help him in rebuilding a new house.”

Roberts moved to Ship Bottom, N.J. in 1986.

His community is rallying around him. Besides the money raised in the GoFundMe, town citizens have given him gift cards to buy food and help rebuild his wardrobe. Folks know him as the guy who walks a mile a day and rides his bike into town.

“There’s a lot of good people in this world, I found out,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what I would have done without them,” he said. “I appreciate everything. God bless you all.”