American Veteran 02

Ronald John Ernst

August 4, 1937 ~ May 19, 2022 (age 84)


Ronald John Ernst peacefully passed away surrounded by his loving family on May 19, 2022 at the age of 84 after bravely fighting esophageal cancer for over 3 years.  His family will always remember his bravery and strength during his battle with cancer.  Even in the midst of his treatments, he rarely complained.

Ron was born on August 4, 1937 to Raymond (Steel mill worker) and Catherine (Homemaker) Ernst (née Planitzer) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He is one of six siblings – Carol, Mary, Rita, Rich & Kathy.  The family resided in the neighborhood of “Southside” Pittsburgh, where he attended Catholic grammar and South Hills High School.

In December of 1959, Ron entered active duty in the US Army where he would train and work as a radar repairman.  His 3 years of military service included working near the front lines of the Korean War. 

Upon discharge, Ron relocated to Modesto and soon realized that he would not be returning to the snow of the East Coast.  He began to work as a psychiatric technician at Modesto State Hospital.  Soon after, Ron met his future wife, Cheryl (née Goss) at a party in Modesto.  Ron and Cheryl were married in 1964 and bought their first car together – a Plymouth Fury.  Two years later Andrea was born, with Ronny to follow shortly after.

A few years later, the family made another move to Ukiah where Ron took a position at Mendocino State Hospital.  To this day, his first wedding ring is still at the bottom of Lake Mendocino.     

In 1971, they relocated to Napa where Ron became a supervisor at Napa State Hospital.  They went on to have two more children, Denise & Lucas.  Despite working the evening shift at Napa State, Ron was an active and involved parent and was stern yet loving and supportive.  Over the years, the Ernst house became a local hangout where all were welcome.

When the children were older, Ron completed nursing school at the Napa Valley College and would continue to work at Napa State as a Psychiatric RN for several years.  In his free time, Ron enjoyed running with his older son, fishing, camping and traveling with his family.  An avid Steelers fan, one of his favorite family trips was returning to his hometown and visiting Heinz Field including a tour of the stadium and locker-room.  At this time, he also became very active with the local American Legion Post 113 where he proudly served on the Color Guard Team.

Eventually Ron landed his favorite role as a doting grandfather to his two granddaughters, Kayley & Alyssa and two grandsons, Zachary & Andrew. 

Ron loved the holidays with Easter, Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving & Christmas always being large celebrations.  Traditions were made and his family was spoiled by his generosity. 

Upon 35 years of public service, Ron retired from the Napa State Hospital and was able to focus on his favorite hobby - gardening. Most days you could find Ron wearing his straw hat, watering and tending to his vegetable garden, alongside Cheryl and her flowers.

To know Ron is to love him.  His kind, gentle and wise words have impacted countless people far and wide and his presence will be greatly missed.  We will always remember the amazing father he was and will cherish the memories forever. 

Ron is preceded in death by his parents, Raymond & Catherine and sister, Carol.  He is survived by his wife Cheryl to whom he was married to for 57 years; daughter Andrea Wilmes (Lynn); son Ronald (Lisa); daughter Denise St. John (Greg); son Lucas; and grandchildren Kayley, Alyssa, Zach and Andrew, along with countless friends and relatives. He also loved his cat Boo.

The family would also like to express their thanks to the Queen of the Valley Hospital & Cancer Center/Oncology for their kindness and dedication.  A special thank you to Dr. Daniel Mirda, who was always very encouraging and compassionate throughout his treatment.  

Services will be held on Wednesday, June 1 at 11:00 am, at Tulocay Cemetery with a reception to follow. A private burial will commence on Thursday, June 2 at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.


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Funeral Service
June 1, 2022

11:00 AM
Tulocay Cemetery 411 Coombsville Rd

Private Interment

Tulocay Cemetery 411 Coombsville Rd

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