Walter Breuning

In the is file photo, Walter Breuning talks about his life at the Rainbow Retirement Community in Great Falls in 2009.

Associated Press

GREAT FALLS - Friends and neighbors of Walter Breuning, who was the world's oldest man for about two years, are celebrating what would have been his 115th birthday.

Rainbow Retirement in Great Falls celebrated Breuning's birthday Wednesday afternoon. But The Great Falls Tribune (http://bit.ly/1HknpM ) reports the generally somber mood contrasted with the upbeat atmosphere at Breuning's birthday parties in recent years.

Breuning was recognized as the oldest man in the world for nearly two years before his death on April 14 at the age of 114. Born on Sept. 21, 1896, in Melrose, Minn., he began working for the Great Northern Railway at age 17 and stayed with the company until he retired at age 66.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently declared Sept. 21 "Walter Breuning Day," and the proclamation was read aloud at Wednesday's celebration.

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