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Man who lived the longest with bullet in head dies at 103

April 26, 2012 |  1:37 pm

William Lawlis Pace, who was recognized by the Guinness World Record authorities for living the longest with a bullet in his head, died in his sleep Monday at a nursing home in Turlock, Calif., the Modesto Bee reported Thursday. He was 103.

Pace was 8 when his older brother accidentally shot him in the head while playing with their father’s .22 caliber rifle in the barn on the family’s Texas farm. It was October 1917. Doctors decided to leave the bullet alone, deeming brain surgery too risky. The bullet remained in place for 94.5 years.

"His parents did a great job of not letting it affect his life," Pace’s son Theron told the Times Record News of Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2009. "He even played sports; he was a catcher in baseball. If you saw him right now, you think maybe he had a stroke. His mouth was pulled to one side and he had poor use of his right eye."

William Lawlis Pace was born Feb. 27, 1909, in Burkburnett, Texas. In the 1940s he moved with his wife, Onetia, from Texas to California, where they farmed in the Central Valley. He also was a cemetery caretaker.

She died in 2004. Besides his son Theron, Pace is survived by another son, Bill, a brother, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In 2010, the Modesto Bee asked Pace what surprised him most in looking back on his more than 100 years.

"Improvements in living," he said. "When I was born, there were no tractors, no milking machines."


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-- Claire Noland