EDMONDS — Joe Dwyer describes himself as an “old jitterbug from Boston.”
On Thursday, Dwyer celebrated his 100th birthday. About 150 people attended the party at the Sons of Norway in Everett, where he, joined by a partner, danced.
“He’s not Norwegian, he’s Irish,” his son Steve Dwyer said.
The elder Dwyer doesn’t dance as much as he used to. In recent years, he would make stops in Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood and Poulsbo to attend up to eight dances a week.
A World War II veteran, Dwyer marched alongside other veterans of foreign wars in every Fourth of July parade until he turned 97.
At 100, he can still bust out a cha-cha or a waltz, the favorite style of Dwyer and his wife, Louise, who died in 2016.
They were married for 69 years. The couple had a daughter, Anne, and a son, Steve, a judge on the state Court of Appeals and former Edmonds City Council member.
Joe and Louise met in the 1940s when Dwyer was preparing to deploy to the Pacific.
He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, then known as Fort Lewis. She was a USO hostess from Sumner. They met at a social.
“She was a good dancer so I kept going there every Saturday night,” Dwyer said. “When I got back to Tacoma, we got married.”
Before Dwyer left for Japan, his plans changed and he was sent to New York, where he boarded the Queen Mary and headed for Scotland.
“It’s just one of those fateful things,” Steve Dwyer said.
Once in Scotland, he served in England, France and Germany as an Army staff sergeant.
“I danced there, too,” he said.
When Dwyer was discharged from the service, he went back to Tacoma to see the girl from Sumner. They got married in 1946.
Dwyer’s first job after the war was with the Veterans Administration, processing insurance information. Later, he took a job as investigator for the Internal Revenue Service. Then he was named regional chief investigator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
His work as an investigator took him as far south as Puerto Rico and as far north as Alaska. On one occasion, he took a task force to Providence, Rhode Island to investigate the Mafia.
Dwyer and his family moved west in the 1970s.
“I asked my wife if she wanted to move back to Seattle and she said ‘Yes, I can be ready in 10 seconds,’” he said. “All my relatives thought I was moving because of the Mafia.”
They lived in Seattle and Shoreline before settling in Edmonds in 1976 because his wife loved the views.
Inside the family’s home, photos of loved ones hang near documents from government agencies, including a training certificate from FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, and an investigator’s license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
A photo clipped from a newspaper shows a mustached Dwyer conducting a search with another “T-Man,” an agent from the treasury department.
Two days before Dwyer’s birthday, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson declared Thursday “Joe Dwyer Day,” and gave the centenarian a copy of the certificate.
Dwyer said he’s told a couple of people about the honor.
“Only everybody he’s met,” his son said.