Louis Ehrlich, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Jan. 9, attributes his longevity and success in life to one thing — luck.
“Everybody asks me that and frankly, I think it’s luck. It has nothing to do with the guy upstairs or downstairs,” Ehrlich said. “Why am I here… you don’t want me!” Ehrlich said as he raised his arms up in the air, looked up to the sky and let out a slight chuckle.
Ehrlich, who attended Long Beach High School in the 1930s, was known as a class clown by his peers, his daughter, Joanne Nichols said. However, not much has changed as many of his peers at the Long Beach Senior Service Center — formerly known as Jewish Association Serving the Aging — praised his whit, spirit and generosity at a birthday celebration on Jan. 9.
Bonni Goetz, the center’s manager, organized the celebration, attended by over 50 people. Goetz, who has known Ehrlich for more than a decade, praised the milestone and reflected on her first impression of Ehrlich.
“The guy is a real character,” Goetz said. “My other impression was that every woman was going to fall madly in love with him. They’re going to see this tall, very well fit guy, who has a sense of humor and I felt like they would go crazy for him.”
During the celebration, she read a poem she wrote to Ehrlich, which touched on Ehrlich’s love of Costco hotdogs, his business endeavors, his time as a Long Beach lifeguard and his love of visiting Captree State Park to see deer.
“We are here today celebrate to Lou, for turning 100 years young is no easy thing to do,” said Goetz while holding back tears. She finished the poem with a brief toast in celebration of Ehrlich’s life.
“Join me and let’s toast to this man,” Goetz said. “To suave and debonair man of the century, Lou Ehrlich is our guy.”
Ehrlich, who was born on Jan. 11, 1920, reflected on working at his father’s store, Ehrlich’s luncheonette, where he would sell six pieces of candy for a dollar. The business experience would go on to serve him later in his life as he was hired by the furniture store, Castro Convertible, where he later went on to open seven franchise stores in the northeastern area. The success made him a millionaire at a young age and opened many doors for him.
Ehrlich said he met famous personalities, such as Rose Kennedy, the mother of late President John F. Kennedy. He retired at age 50. Ehrlich said he became so successful he was asked to teach a course at Harvard University for one semester.
Ehrlich has done many things in his life, but one thing that he’s proud of is volunteering for The Soup Kitchen in Boynton Beach, Fla. He started a food drive in Hunters Run, also in Florida, where he collected food outside of a condominium for the soup kitchen and helped feed hundreds of people.
The Long Beach Lifeguard Association also previously honored Ehrlich as the Oldest Living Lifeguard in Long Beach. He served as a lifeguard for four years in the late 1930s. Now, he said he plans to start a fresh calendar with new experiences and more smiles.
“All I’ve done in my life is pleasure,” Ehrlich said. “My biggest pleasure now is getting a smile from people.”