His childhood was spent in Bellevue, Nebraska, until the family moved to the Elk Creek, Misouri, area in the fall of 1947. As a boy, Ernie was a paperboy for the Omaha World Herald, delivering papers from his red wagon. When he was twelve, he received a new bicycle with a large basket across the front, and he then delivered groceries to folks all over Bellevue, charging them two or three cents a block for the service. His dog, Mac, usually accompanied him and was allowed to ride in the basket when it was emptied of cargo.
During the summer of 1949, his cousin, Paul, visited from Bellevue, and the two boys decided to hitchhike through the country, finding jobs along the way. They worked in hay fields, got a job with a construction crew, and generally had a big time. They sometimes slept in barns, and once, during a storm, a small town policeman allowed them to bunk in his empty jail overnight and fed them breakfast the next morning. The boys ended up back in Bellevue, having missed a school year.
The following year Ernie was able to attend a year at the School of the Ozarks, which was then only a high school, and later returned to graduate at Cabool with the class of ’52. After graduation, the family moved to University City, near St. Louis, and Ernie graduated in 1954 from Bailey Technical School with a diploma as a diesel and gasoline engine repairman. He worked at a garage in Bellevue until his health began to fail, returning to Missouri and living in Springfield for several years. He then moved, with his parents, to the farm of his sister, Lynn Rust, and her husband, Don, where he helped take care of his folks, as his dad had Parkinson’s disease and was going blind. Ernie was also on hand to do chores for Don and Lynn as they traveled each year on their camping trips and visits out of state.
During the fall of 2008, the Rusts moved to town, and Ernie took up residence at Pineview Heights Senior Apartments, where he made many new friends and reconnected with people he had known for years. His last days were spent at Kabul Nursing Home, recovering from some falls he had suffered. He was happy and well cared for, as the staff was able to do for him what he couldn’t do himself, and he was kept as comfortable as possible during his last days.
Ernie was cheerful, friendly, and grateful for every good thing the world has to offer. He loved good books, working puzzles, and visiting with people. He especially loved his church family and his Sunday school class sessions, as he was an avid Bible reader and kept his Bible beside him where he could reach it at any time. Ernie felt at home with any group who worshipped God and knew Christ as Savior, and he had spent the last years of life with the United Methodist Church in Cabool. He enjoyed his time with the Shady Grove club, and after his move to town he met with the Golden Agers as often as he was able.
Ernie was preceded in death by his parents; an infant sister, Margaret Dale; and his brother-in-law, Don Rust.
He is survived by his sister, Lynn Rust; nieces, Cathy and husband Jerry Smith of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Robin and husband Ray Ealey of Fulton, Missouri; nephew, Randy Rust of Jefferson City, Missouri; great-nieces, Dr. Shannon Smith of Phoenix, Arizona, and Caitlyn Fosse and husband Chase of San Antonio, Texas; great-nephews, Brandon and Jordan Rust of Jefferson City; “bonus” great-nieces, Maggie and husband Scott Lutz and children Drew and Kate and Elizabeth and husband Derek Stott, all of Columbia; as well as several out-of-state cousins and their families. He counted the extended Hood families as “almost relatives” and treasured the many good times spent with them.
Funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, September 14, 2015, at the United Methodist Church in Cabool, with Greg Dowler officiating. Pallbearers were Randy Rust, Jerry Smith, Mike Hood, Jerry Hood, Estaban Pedrazas and Harold Bennett. Honorary pallbearers were Bill Dickison, Stanley Hanna, Rick Hood, Ray Ealey and Dave Embury. Interment was in Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com