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At 100 years old, Greensboro crossing guard still going strong and serving his community

Thomas Faucette moved across his backyard birthday party, greeting guests with ease and a big smile.

He was very recognizable — the cool guy wearing a Black t-shirt with white letters that read: “It took me 100 years to look this good.”

Thomas's wife Elizabeth went all out for the occasion. The t-shirt was a gift from a friend, but Elizabeth gave her husband a baseball cap emblazoned with the words: “100 never looked so good.”

“We’ve been married 51 years, and celebrating his 100th birthday. And it’s a pleasure and an honor that he is still with us," Elizabeth Faucette says. "A blessing.”

Thomas Faucette is a World War II veteran and turned 100 on Sept. 29 this year.

He retired from the U.S. Postal Service in the 1980s and started his second career as a crossing guard for Guilford County Schools soon after, in 1986. These days, he is at Peck Elementary School — a school that is culturally diverse, unlike the segregated one Faucette, a Black man, attended in the 1930s.

His wife, a retired school teacher, gave him the crossing guard idea.

“I like it, I like it," he says. "Instead of staying home looking at the TV, I can come to her school... (as a) crossing guard. I enjoy it.”

His son, Thomas Faucette Jr., says there is no stopping Thomas Sr. He loves seeing the kids every day.

“He has more things to do than we have to do," he says. "Even when it comes down to vacation, he wants to hurry up and come back so he can do the cross guard. He does not want to take off work. It keeps him busy.”

Faucette's daughter, Thomasina Faucette-Hayes, says her father got his COVID-19 vaccine a long time ago, wears a mask to work and is in pretty good health for someone who is a century old.

“We used to call him ‘The Bionic Man’ because of his knee replacements, cataracts, and he had something done with his spine," she says. "We used to call him ‘The Bionic Man’ because he has been re-built.”

Thomas Faucette’s supervisor says the only time he misses his crossing guard shift is when he has a doctor’s appointment.

 Elizabeth and Thomas Faucette.
Denise Allen / for WUNC
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Elizabeth and Thomas Faucette.
 Four generations of Faucette men -- Thomas Faucette Jr., Thomas Faucette Sr., Thomas Faucette III and his son Nathan Faucette.
Denise Allen / for WUNC
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Four generations of Faucette men -- Thomas Faucette Jr., Thomas Faucette Sr., Thomas Faucette III and his son Nathan Faucette.
 The Faucette family at Thomas' 100th birthday party. Front Row: Stacy Faucette holding son Nathan Faucette, Elizabeth Faucette, Thomas Faucette Sr., Thomasina Faucette Hayes. Back Row: Thomas Faucette III, Thomas Faucette, Jr., Kennedy Elizabeth Hayes, Richard Hayes Jr.
Denise Allen / for WUNC
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The Faucette family at Thomas' 100th birthday party. Front Row: Stacy Faucette holding son Nathan Faucette, Elizabeth Faucette, Thomas Faucette Sr., Thomasina Faucette Hayes. Back Row: Thomas Faucette III, Thomas Faucette, Jr., Kennedy Elizabeth Hayes, Richard Hayes Jr.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She explores modern and historical constructs to tell stories of poverty and wealth, health and food culture, education and racial identity. Leoneda is also co-host of the podcast Tested, allowing for even more in-depth storytelling on those topics.