Surrounded by friends and family, Ernest "Ernie" Lacroix celebrated his 101st birthday Sunday afternoon at The Vantage at City View, which is an independent living center. His wish for this year, to complete his 21st Cowtown 5K.
"I don't enter to win, I tell everyone, you can go home and say, 'You didn't finish last because he did,' and I will finish last if I'm in there," Lacroix joked. "Usually I win in the sense because I'm the oldest, which has no glamour to it at all, it doesn't feel like a win, but anyway, I enjoy being with the crowd."
In 2019, he celebrated his 100th birthday at the race and even had the mayor of Forth Worth, along with other runners sing him, "Happy Birthday."
This year, he has a week before the race and is concerned he may not be able to complete it
"I had cancer on my head and they operated on that," explained Lacroix, who underwent several rounds of radiation in the past year. "They say it was an aggressive deal and so they wanted to keep things under control."
He said he also has an issue with his leg and has a walker to help, but without it, he said he has a bad limp.
"I don't know if I can get my legs in shape, even just for just 3 miles, I'm going to try," he said. "I think part of my treatment has affected me as far as my liveliness is concerned. I've always been pretty active, but I'm just lethargic now."
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Lacroix fought in World War II and was a first lieutenant and served as a B-25 pilot and leader of the 310th Bombardment Wing in the Army Air Corps. He flew 76 missions, which earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross Medal.
"My adventures with Uncle Sam, I realized, a boyhood dream and I became a pilot," said Lacorix, as he told his story to other residents at The Vantage at City View. "The flying was just as great as I thought it would be, even when they're shooting at me."
He would later meet the love of his life, Helen, whom he was married to for 69 years.
"I was sitting in the test pilots office and I was waiting for an airplane to test, and this beautiful young lady walked in, passed the place and I almost fainted," said La Croix, as he reflected on when he first met his wife. "I said, 'Man, that's something for me.'"
His wife passed away 5 years ago.
"This is old sweety," reflected Lacroix as he looked at an old picture of he and his wife.
He later followed his passion for photography, specializing in outdoor and wildlife. He also worked in the printing business, where he earned many awards.