Bernie Queneau named honorary Eagle Scout at age 102

Published Jul 23, 2014 at 6:20 am (Updated Jul 18, 2014 at 11:45 am)

Bernie Queneau is quick to point out that when, upon meeting someone, he prefers to shake a man’s hand and to hug a lady – with his wife Esther’s permission, of course.

If seated when meeting someone new, Queneau will always stand, without the use of a cane or walker, after making sure his jacket is properly adjusted. Queneau is the epitome of the word gentleman.

To most, he likes to be called just plain Bernie. However, his official title is Dr. Queneau, having earned a doctorate in engineering in 1936.

On July 14, Queneau, a resident of The Devonshire Mt. Lebanon for the past three months, celebrated his 102nd birthday with is wife of 11 years, and about 100 of their friends that included 40 or so Cub and Boy Scouts.

Queneau has accomplished much in his life, but none more than obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 16 in 1928. That feat was 86 years ago, and he is believed to be the oldest living Eagle Scout in the country.

To honor Queneau and his accomplishments over the years, he was awarded the title of Honorary Eagle Scout by Troop 65 during a ceremony on his birthday, that culminated with a rousing version of “Happy Birthday” and chocolate birthday cake.

Queneau was born in Belgium in 1912, where his father worked until relocating the family to the United States, where Queneau joined a scout troop. After earning his title of Eagle Scout, he was soon selected for a position on the prestigious adventure of traveling the Lincoln Highway from New York City to San Francisco. During the trip, Queneau taught others about traffic safety, first aid and other safety tips. He also honed his Boy Scout skills of changing tires and building a camp fire.

His wife said he continues to love to cook and says his culinary skills were also honed through the scouts.

He graduated from Columbia University and during World War II, Queneau worked in research developing armor for oxygen tanks used by pilots that saved countless American lives.

Just before the end of the war, as a Naval Commander, he was selected to participate with a group of engineers to enter Germany and to study Hitler’s industrial technology.

He continued to have pride in his Eagle Scout award and never forgot his trip along the Lincoln Highway. In 1997, he was contacted by his now wife about speaking at a Lincoln Highway event. The common love of the highway resulted in the couple marrying in 2003 when Queneau was a mere 91 years old.

On his recent birthday, Queneau was presented with a framed Troop 65 Eagle neckerchief.

“This is the first time I’ve been awarded something and have not been asked to speak, but I will speak anyway,” he said to laughter.

He had advice for the young scouts who attended his birthday ceremony, the youngest being age 6, born when Queneau was 96 years old: “I tell the boys to always stay clean. No smoke in the lungs, and I don’t mean weed, I mean tobacco.”

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