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Ernie LaFerriere

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June 21, 1924 - October 18, 2016

Congratulations to our member Ernie LaFerriere, on his 88th birthday in June. He is as feisty as he ever was. He still drives everywhere, is at many of our functions, attends Expressions Fellowship every Sunday, reads voraciously, has outlived three partners, looks many years younger, and certainly knows how to cut the birthday cake into huge slabs. As soon as he finished his piece of cake, he noticed a number out by the pool at the Habana. He excused himself to head-out to the pool area to check it out. We noticed he had his kneepads with him in his back pocket. That's our Ernie! We wish him many more celebrations in good health. Hey, friend, we luv ya!"


That was four years ago. At 1:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, October 18, 2016, we received word that Ernie had passed. At 92, he was the OKC Prime Timers' oldest member.

 

Ernie LaFerriere was born in Massachusetts on June 21, 1924. He was the youngest of sixteen siblings of French-Canadian parents. French was spoken in the home.

By 1942, several of his siblings, including Ernie, had moved to the New Jersey side of the NYC metro area. By then, the war in Europe was active so Ernie enlisted in the Army. He was 18 years old. He was placed in a medical unit and trained as a frontline medic. He was sent to Europe, crossing the Atlantic as one of 20,000 new recruits aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Every now and then, Ernie had shared how horrific it had been in the trenches of France and the many, many deaths he had witnessed. Some, the medics had been able to save, others no. During his service, he took part in the Battle of the Bulge. Due to such difficult times as a front line nurse during WWII, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Upon discharge, Ernie returned to Jersey to finish high school. He then studied three years at a Jersey City nursing school, graduating as a registered nurse in 1950.

Ernie then enlisted in the Air Force as a 1st Lieutenant, classified as an industrial nurse. He was sent to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City in charge of the base medical facility. During that tour of duty, the Air Force sent him to Thule AFB in Greenland for a year. When Ernie discharged from the Air Force, he had the rank of Major. He immediately went to work for Standard Oil on the island of Aruba in the Caribbean. He was there for four years.

Back in Jersey, Ernie studied court reporting, eventually returning to Oklahoma City. He found that Baptist Hospital was establishing a burn center. That was his bag, so he applied. He was one of the original nurses credited with getting the Baptist Burn Center up and functioning.

Ernie continued in the nursing field for 42 years. He was an active participant in Saturday afternoon dances at Senior Centers. He was an avid reader, worked out every other day at Pacer Gym, faithfully attended Expressions Fellowship, was active with OKC's Prime Time chapter, and even did the 5K in the OKC Marathon at the age of 86. He had outlived three life partners, still drove everywhere, lived alone in his home doing his own gardening. Plus, Ernie and David Koontz, both being Prime Timers, were past Co-Grand Marshalls of the OKC Pride Parade, honoring both for their service during World War II.

We all know people that are aging, and sadly for many, life is just a day-to-day existence. But, Ernie lived! Each day was a new adventure, always ready for a new conquest. All of us OKC Prime Timers guys have an Ernie-anecdote to tell. So, farewell, good friend. Thanks for passing through our lives.

Quoted from the July 2012 Central Oklahoma PT newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

 

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Last modified on Sunday, 15 January 2017 21:11

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