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Ernie Heinisch’s friends celebrating at McDonald’s for his 102nd birthday — cake and coffee to first 100

By Ginger Dawson
NKyTribune reporter

Ernie Heinisch came into the world in 1917. Yep, that’s right, 102 years ago!

He was the second oldest of seven children growing up in Vanceburg, Kentucky, east of Cincinnati, in Lewis County, right on the Ohio River.

Betty and Ernie Heinisch

He and his siblings were close-knit. After losing their mother at a young age — 42 — they avoided being split up and convinced everyone that they could stay together and help their father take care of themselves.  

The siblings did that for 20 years — sharing duties making a home and sending money until the youngest of them, Jim, was out of the house and launched into adulthood.

World War II came and the four oldest brothers served. Ernie, Howard, and Wayne went into the Army and Ray was in the Navy.

Jim, the youngest, and too young to enlist at the time, went on to have a successful career as vice president of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

Brother Ray in the Navy and Ernie in his Army uniform.

In 2004, he paid tribute to his brothers for their service and also honored them and sisters, Betty and Ruth, for their dedication to his childhood and upbringing by planning a family reunion trip to Washington D.C. It was the year that the National World War II monument was being dedicated.  

It was a good trip and the perfect time for them all to also honor the memory of their father, Reynold, who was the Lewis County Draft Board Clerk. The war affected many families, in many ways.

Ernie is the last man standing. All of the family is gone and he is predeceased by his only son, John, who passed at the age of 36.

Ernie stayed in Vanceburg until 1968, when he had a job opportunity to move to Northern Kentucky. He worked for Frisch’s Restaurants as a store manager. He was with them until he retired.  

Baby Ernie with older brother Wayne

He had other jobs after Frisch’s, one of which was at CVG, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. He was in his 80s at the time.

He had lost his first wife and was lucky to meet Betty while they were both working at the airport. They hit it off and have been married for 18 years.  

In fact, after being a Methodist for 70 years, he converted to Catholicism in order to marry Betty. With a twinkle in his eye, he said that with her, he “saw the light.”

Betty is 91. She and Ernie live independently and stay active.

Ernie has been athletic his whole life. Swimming in the Ohio River as a kid, baseball, soccer—all kinds of ball sports. He, in fact, played tennis well into his 80s. 

He is trim and sure on his feet.

Of seven siblings, Ernie is the only one remaining.

Even still, Ernie is not quite sure why he has lived so long. He speculates that divine providence has kept him here for Betty. 

Betty has another insight on it. She says that Ernie is not a worrier.   

Heart problems had been in the family and he was told when he was 18 that he had better slow down. He outlived that doctor.

He did quit drinking when he was 50 and he has never smoked.

His daily habits may also have something to do with it — he begins every morning by eating a honey bun, and he also does a crossword puzzle.

Being a good company man, he also extolls the virtues of Frisch’s Big Boys and their vegetable soup. 

Last year, a group of four of Ernie’s friends, who he sees three or four times a week at the Crescent Springs McDonald’s decided to throw a party for him on the occasion of his 101st birthday.

They are doing it again for 102!

This Friday, August 23rd, at the Crescent Springs McDonald’s, Ernie will be in attendance to serve cake and coffee to the first 100 guests.

Your invitation:

The Celebration of Ernie Heinisch’s 102 Birthday
Friday, August 23rd
8 a.m. Cake and coffee for the first 100 guests
2513 Hazelwood St. Crescent Springs, KY 41017

Featured picture is Ernie and Betty a few years back.

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