ALAMEDA -- Terry Yorke LaCroix Jr., who volunteered countless hours in public service and was the city's first elected mayor, has died. He was 88.

LaCroix was mayor between 1969 and 1976. He was on the City Council between 1963 and 1969.

"He had a love of the city and a love for the community and for the people who reside here," former Mayor Bill Withrow said. "And I think people recognized that and respected him for it."

LaCroix, who died March 19, led the city at a time when many residents felt overdevelopment was threatening Alameda's character, prompting them to amend the City Charter to limit any new housing to single-family residences or duplexes -- a change that would influence the city for decades.

LaCroix was especially proud of his work to curb housing density, as well as helping to defeat the "Southern Crossing," a 1972 proposal to build a bridge that would have linked Bay Farm Island with San Francisco, according to his family.

LaCroix was mayor on Feb. 7, 1973, when a U.S. Navy A-7E Corsair II crashed into the four-story Tahoe Apartments at 1814 Central Ave., killing the pilot and 10 people on the ground. The aircraft was on a routine training flight to Sacramento from the Lemoore Naval Air Station, south of Fresno.

LaCroix was returning from a mayor's conference in Piedmont when he learned of the crash and rushed to the scene.

"The fire did a tremendous amount of damage -- the biggest conflagration we ever had in our city," LaCroix said in a video interview with the California Digital Story Telling Project.

What struck LaCroix was the number of people who showed up after the disaster, volunteering to help emergency crews and prevent the fire from spreading. "It was amazing to see what people were doing to render and assist what was going on," he said.

LaCroix said he worked in the days after the crash to make sure the public did not blame sailors at the former Alameda Naval Air Station for what happened, or firefighters for the extent of the damage.

"He was the epitome of a leader who reflected the city," former City Councilman Lil Arnerich said about LaCroix. "He had tremendous knowledge, having been born and raised here."

LaCroix served on the boards of the Hanna Boys Center in Marin County and of the former Providence Hospital in Oakland. He was also a former chairman of the Alameda Park and Recreation Department.

LaCroix was born on Oct. 24, 1924, and attended St. Joseph elementary school. He graduated from Alameda High School in 1942. During World War II, LaCroix enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and flew "The Hump" in the China-Burma-India Theatre in C-47s as a flight engineer. After the war, LaCroix worked as a manager at the former Del Monte plant at Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street before beginning a banking career. He retired in 1986.

LaCroix and his wife, Pat, moved to Redding in 1988. Pat LaCroix died in 2010. Before they left Alameda, the couple were longtime members of the Encinal Yacht Club and active parishioners at St. Joseph Basilica.

LaCroix's survivors include six daughters, 10 grandchildren and three great granddaughters. In lieu of flowers, his family asked that contributions in LaCroix's memory be made to the Mercy Medical Foundation -- North at supportmercynorth.org; the El Retiro Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos at 650-917-4000; or the Friends of Parks Foundation at alamedaparks.org.

FYI
A memorial service for Terry
LaCroix will take place at 10 a.m. April 20 at St. Joseph Basilica, 1109 Chestnut St.