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After his passing, WWII veteran's message of kindness and gratitude lives on

WWII veteran Les Mendelson passed away Thursday at age 98, leaving behind a message that resonated with us, one of kindness and gratitude.

DENVER — World War II veteran Leslie (Les) Mendelson passed away peacefully Thursday, Sep. 29, at age 98, but his message of kindness and gratitude lives on.

Mendelson served for three years in the U.S. Navy, from 1943-1946. He was later decorated for his service in the South Pacific. 

Five years ago, 9News filmed Mendelson's return from an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. We explored degrees of gratitude with a 360-degree camera that followed Mendelson through the crowd as he thanked flight volunteers and well-wishers thanked him. 

RELATED: 360 degrees of gratitude: An honor flight returns to DIA

In his memory, we're revisiting that kind of gratitude.

He left a message behind a few months ago, thanking the 9News photojournalist at the Honor Flight for being there, for being kind. 

He said it was one of many calls in which he was thanking everyone in his life who had been nice to him as he approached his 98th birthday. 

You can listen to a portion of it here:

"I just want to thank you," Mendelson said. "My wife and son-in-law and my daughter, we just had a great time. And the only reason I'm calling is I wanted to thank you. It's getting late in the game for me. I'm just calling people who were nice to me. And I'm just thanking you for it. I wish you all the best of everything."

Mendelson was born and raised in San Francisco. After an honorable discharge, he lived and worked in Los Angeles in the paper recycling industry, where he became a successful businessman. 

He was married to his true love and wife, Carol, for 59 years, and had two children. He's survived by his daughter, Stacy, and four loving grandchildren.

The video above was provided by Mendelson's family.

He vacationed in Scotland for 15 years and loved to golf, and he was described as a true friend, philanthropist, family man, patriot and a true romantic.

Family and friends remembered Mendelson at his services today, and we remembered the kindness and gratitude he both inspired and left behind.

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