Ernie died March 29, 2007, in Spokane, Washington of a heart attack. He served as a Naval Lieutenant and volunteered for two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. During his second tour while serving on the River Patrols, he was wounded and received the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He then went on to complete his education at the University of Idaho, Moscow where he earned degrees in both Forestry and Sociology. Ernie went to work for the U.S. Forest Service and was based out of Boise as a smokejumper where he spent eight years and made over one hundred jumps. He then went on to the canvas business with a keen eye for design as he covered hundreds of boats in Idaho and Washington.
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