Ernie Whitman of Silt passed away Friday, Oct. 30, 2009 at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction with loved ones at his side following a brief illness. He was 79 years old.
Born in Tuscarora, Mich., Ernie grew up in Cheboygan County. He worked hard as a kid, graduated in 1949 from Petoskey High School, and went on to join the army.
Ernie became a military policeman and served in the army from 1951-1953. He was stationed at Fort Sheridan, Ill. and was awarded the National Defense Service Metal. After his discharge, Ernie moved to California where he worked in the strawberry and hay fields with his good friend John Henry Arthur (Jack).
Ernie moved to Colorado in 1955, and worked in the Climax Mine near Leadville. At that time he met his wife, Ruth Bertschy, waiting tables in Buena Vista at the Dinner Bell Diner.
They married on Nov. 13, 1956 in Raton, N.M., and raised four children together. Ernie also lived and worked with the Arthur's on a ranch in Divide Creek.
In keeping with his sense of adventure, Ernie worked in many different places in the earlier years of his marriage. Ernie labored as a roughneck on the gas wells in Colorado and Wyoming; he worked as a derrick hand at a test site in Indian Springs, Nev.; did off shore drilling in Brazil; and in 1977 started his own drywall business, Whitman Drywall, with his sons in Silt. He was an entrepreneur at heart who liked to challenge his skills. He took pride in his business and was an honest and hardworking drywall contractor.
Ernie had many passions in life. In his younger years he enjoyed roller skating, bowling and was a member of the Arcadia Skating Club in 1950. He also appreciated nature and was very outgoing when it came to outdoor adventures. Gardening, fishing, hunting, boating, and snowmobiling were a very important and meaningful part of his life. You would often find Ernie up and down the Divide Creek in his favorite fishing spots. He also enjoyed guiding hunters and his favorite places to hunt were in the four mile area. When snowmobiling, Ernie's best places to be on top of the world were on the Flat Tops and on Black Mountain in the Routt National Forest where he and his family once owned a cabin.
Ernie lived his life with dignity and was a man of integrity. He had a quiet personality (often keeping to himself), took good care of his family, and loved to tease. Passionate about his work, Ernie constantly kept busy. He had a positive outlook on life and dearly loved his wife, kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. On a Sunday afternoon, Ernie liked relaxing in his easy chair while catching the latest ball game or watching an old western movie. Ernie's favorite westerns include actors John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. He also took pleasure in reading books by Author Louis L'Amour.
Ernie will be remembered by his wife of 53 years, Ruth Whitman; his sons, Wesley Whitman of Battlement Mesa and Wayne Whitman of Rifle; his daughters, Sheryl Stroup of Arvada and Charlene (Dink) Bagley of Silt; and his adoring 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
A private memorial and afternoon of remembrance will be held in Buena Vista at a later date.