Of Bear Paws and Bonfires: The Passions of Bowdoin’s Retiring LaCroix

Bernie LaCroix

A newly shorn Bernie LaCroix leaves behind his legacy of the five-clawed Polar Bear paw as he retires from the College to enjoy the rekindled flame with his high school sweetheart. “We now have a bonfire,” he says.

Longtime equipment manager Bernie LaCroix has been passionate about all things Polar Bear. After he arrived at the  College in 1994, and with guidance from his biologist son, LaCroix had a hand in changing what had been a four-clawed cat paw adorning Bowdoin football helmets and other gear to the more appropriate five-clawed bear paw.

That may be LaCroix’s legacy here, but a new game plan includes a brightly burning future.

In May LaCroix, a widower since losing his wife to Parkinson’s Disease two years ago, reconnected with his prom date and high school sweetheart on Facebook. After corresponding for months, LaCroix traveled to Colorado to reunite face to face with Diane, but not before making a significant change.

“Youth was my objective, and not having seen her since 1960, I wanted to replicate what I looked like back then as much as possible,” said LaCroix, who has sported facial hair for decades. “It was quite a challenge, but the mustache did have to go.”

Diane liked what she saw inside and out, and the two are now engaged to be married.

“After 50 years of not seeing her, the flame was rekindled and we now have a bonfire.”

LaCroix’s last day at the College is Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. He and his fiancé plan to spend winters in Colorado Springs, and summers at the house he owns in Brunswick.

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