William ErnstJuly 3rd, 2020
William James Ernst, age 94, died Monday, June 29, 2020, at Lenoir in Columbia, Mo. He was born in East St. Louis, Ill., on April 2, 1925, to John Louis Ernst and Lorena Sophia Philippina Doran Ernst. Bill served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Korea at the tail end of World War II. When he returned to the United States, he attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where he worked toward a degree in engineering. He always said his schooling was sidetracked when he met Jewel Joanna Graue and they were married on May 15, 1949, in Mineola, Mo. The Ernsts and another young couple, Bill and Merle Hartsfield, made plans to move to Alaska. They were so excited discussing their plans for the move that no one noticed the 50-gallon barrel of heating oil they had purchased was leaking. Now out of heating oil, they decided there wasn't enough money for the trip. The Ernst's first home was in a little house on Love St. in Mexico, Mo., where Jewel worked as a nurse and Bill worked at Montgomery Wards. They returned for awhile to the Ernst family farm, where their first son, Will, was born. Bill then worked on a farm owned by Murray Colbert where John was born and by the time Kara came along, Bill had gone into the construction business with his father. In 1960, he was elected as County Surveyor in Montgomery County. When Bill's father retired in 1960, he continued in construction until 1966. Together, the Ernsts developed three subdivisions in Montgomery City Julie Court and Garden Place are two of the streets he named. Bill was active in the Montgomery City community. Like his father before him, Bill was an Eagle Scout and also enjoyed being a Scout leader when his boys were in Scouts. In 1966 Bill became a Sears catalog store franchisee in Montgomery City. He ran the Sears store until his "retirement" in 1984. In 1973, the Ernsts built a home tucked into the woods in Mineola, on part of Jewel's family's farm. Bill built a shop where he ran a custom framing business and many friends and family members have his work hanging on their walls. Bill's retirement didn't last long as he became a licensed realtor and worked for Schlanker Realty in Montgomery City. Over the years, Bill and Jewel made many trips to Ruidoso, NM, where they made lifelong friends. Bill was a member of the First United Methodist-Presbyterian Church of Montgomery City and volunteered with the local Red Cross. He grew a large garden and loved the wild birds that visited. Bill enjoyed turkey hunting and his last deer season was in 2011 at the age of 86. He loved the gooey butter cake made at Joe's Bakery in Montgomery City and he said he didn't like chocolate, but he always kept a stash of Snickers candy bars. Bill is survived by his three children, Will Ernst of Fulton, Mo.; John Ernst (Ashley) of Harrisburg, Mo.; Kara Hillman (Paul) of Wichita Falls, Texas; grandchildren, Candace Springer (Kevin) of Burke, Va.; Erin Hillman of Oklahoma City, Okla.; and two great-grandchildren, Scarlett and Colin Springer of Burke, Va. He will be missed greatly by his family and friends, and his cat, Molly, who was his constant companion at Lenoir. Bill was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John Louis Ernst Jr.; sister, Flora Wilma Brown; and by his wife, Jewel Ernst. Due to COVID-19, there will be no funeral service. Bill's ashes will be interred next to Jewel in the St. James Cemetery at Big Spring, Mo. Memorial contributions are suggested to the St. James Cemetery, Treasurer Larry Hauser, 18 Hwy. K, Hermann, MO 65041.