STILLWATER, Minn. -- A Minnesota man given days or weeks to live can cross something off his bucket list: crossing a new bridge into Wisconsin.
Jack Bohmert, 82, crossed the new St. Croix River bridge Thursday, as the first member of the public to step on the one-mile stretch now in the final phases of construction.
Bohmert suffers from congestive heart failure and a massive blood clot, he also suffered a stroke earlier this year.
“I’m happy, I made my peace, I have no regrets, and I had a good life, I’d like to stick around a little longer, but that’s okay,” he said.
He said the secret to his long life already has been his longtime partner, Virginia Ritzer.
“We've been together for 39 or 40 years and we are still dating,” said Bohmert.
“He wanted us to go together and the doctor said maybe she doesn’t want to go right now,” said Ritzer, who has Parkinson’s disease. “You have to live one day at a time and that is what we are trying to do.”
Bohmert made a bucket list of things he wants to do before he dies after receiving the news. At the top of his list was crossing the new bridge near his condominium.
His granddaughter, Kelli Espiritu, hatched a plan that included a flag raising ceremony for the Navy veteran and retired truck driver. Bohmert was able to get out of a car and walk to the edge of the bridge and look out over the water.
“There are so many people that have been good to me, I don’t know what to do, you know?” said Bohmert. “It’s beautiful.”
The bridge won't be open to the public until after a ribbon-cutting Aug. 2, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation made an exception for Bohmert.
Bohmert was able to go to a family lake cabin as one of his last wishes, and the final goal on his Bohmert's list is living until his 83rd birthday on July 17. On that day, another surprise is in store.
The Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski declared July 17 “Jack Bohmert” Day, in his honor.
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