Centenarian, World War II hero honored: Retired Lt. Cmdr. Lou Conter celebrates 100th birthday (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com
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Centenarian, World War II hero honored: Retired Lt. Cmdr. Lou Conter celebrates 100th birthday (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Lou Conter addresses those gathered at the Alta Sierra Country Club Sunday to celebrate his 100th birthday. Friends and family came from far and wide, including former Pearl Harbor park rangers, to spend time with him and wish him a happy birthday. Conter is one of two remaining survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the USS Arizona.
Photo: Elias Funez

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Lou Conter is known for many milestones and accomplishments in his life.

Aside from surviving the explosion of his ship, the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Conter is known for his survival skills after being shot down twice over enemy waters, fighting off sharks in the process.

Conter also survived many missions where he helped rescue Australian allies trapped behind enemy lines during World War II.



Lou Conter was greeted with a soldier’s welcome Sunday at the Alta Sierra Country Club, where his 100th birthday was celebrated. Members of the California Highway Patrol, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Grass Valley Police Department, American Legion, and local Boy Scouts all gathered alongside friends and family of Conter’s during his welcome.
Photo: Elias Funez

On Sunday, Conter became known for turning 100.

Though his actual birthday was Monday, a large celebration was held Sunday at the Alta Sierra Country Club, where family and friends from far and wide showed up to honor the living legend and American hero.



A pair of North American T-6 Texan aircraft perform an aerial fly by during Conter’s 100th birthday celebration.
Photo: Elias Funez

Representatives from the California Highway Patrol, Nevada County Board of Supervisors, Grass Valley City Council, and many more all presented Conter with their appreciation.

“You’ve come a long way from splashing down surrounded by sharks, to being here surrounded by people,” Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Robin Davies said to Conter.

Grass Valley Council member Jan Arbuckle presented Conter with a key to the city.

Friend Jeff Holt surprised Conter with a photo of his wife’s ultrasound and asked Conter to be his child’s godfather.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” Conter said in front of the crowd of hundreds gathered.

During the celebration, Conter was presented with another photo, this one of him pinning his wings onto great-nephew Capt. Daniel Hower of the USMC, during a ceremony held recently.

Five-year-old Sienna Rose Pankoski sings the National Anthem to Lou Conter and the crowd for his 100th birthday celebration Sunday at the Alta Sierra Country Club.
Photo: Elias Funez

“They decided that I should give him my wings, I pinned them on him yesterday,” Conter said to the crowd.

“I received my wings November 15, 1942, and he is now a pilot and a captain in the Marine Corps and his dad, a retired colonel, and I want everybody to meet him,” Conter said as he introduced Hower.

Conter spent the rest of the celebration receiving gifts, signing autographs in his book “The Lou Conter Story,” and taking photos with his many friends and family members.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Lou Conter is presented a pair of photographs of him pinning his wings on his great-nephew, Capt. Ray Hower of the USMC, during Conter’s 100th birthday celebration Sunday. Hower became a pilot last year, while Conter earned his wings in November 1942.
Photo: Elias Funez
Conter’s many friends and family at his 100th birthday party were asked to sign a large banner for him to help commemorate the day.
Photo: Elias Funez
The beginning of Lou Conter’s 100th birthday celebration started Sunday with a visit from neighbor and fellow World War II serviceman Jim Fitch in front of his home at Eskaton Village.
Photo: Elias Funez
Lou Conter gets a California Highway Patrol escort to his 100th birthday party in Alta Sierra from his home at Eskaton Village by Officer Chris West from the Grass Valley office.
Photo: Elias Funez
Lou Conter is welcomed to the Alta Sierra Country Club for his 100th birthday celebration on Sunday. Conter is a member of the club, which is open to the public, and used to be a regular golfer there.
Photo: Elias Funez
Friends and family look on as family photos are taken with Lou Center and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren during his 100th birthday celebration Sunday at the Alta Sierra Country Club.
Photo: Elias Funez
People dig in to the catered meal prepared by the kitchen staff at Alta Sierra Country Club.
Photo: Elias Funez
Lou Conter’s 100th birthday cake.
Photo: Elias Funez
Lou Conter, who recently published the book “The Lou Conter Story,” signs a copy presented to him by one of his fans in attendance of his 100th birthday on Sunday.
Photo: Elias Funez

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