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Ernest William Chapman

Obituary
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Ernest William Chapman May 19, 1923 – October 18, 2013 Ernest William Chapman was born on May 19th, 1923, at the Chapman Ranch near Collbran, Colorado to Francis Sr. and Myra (Erickson) Chapman. Ernest passed on October 18th, 2013, after a short stay at the Veteran's Community Living Center. He leaves behind Helen, his faithful companion of 68 years; four daughters, Lillian, Bonnie, Ernestine and Janice; four grandsons; two granddaughters; five great-grandsons, and nine great-granddaughters. We are all very fortunate to have had him in our lives for the 90 years he was on this earth and he will live on in our hearts. Ernest spent both his childhood and post war years living and working on the ranch his Grandfather Erickson initially purchased in 1900. After graduating from Collbran Union High School in 1941, he attended College in Chillicothe, Missouri as an Art Major until the war broke out. He joined the US Marine Corps on December 9th, 1942 and served during WWII in the American and Asiatic Pacific Campaign until wounded on Iwo Jima on February 20th, 1945 where he operated an Amphibian Tractor for the 4th Division. He was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation upon discharge and Purple Heart many years later due to the persistence of fellow veteran, Wayne. Upon returning to the states, he married the woman he had long admired, Helen Ruth Milholland, on June 23rd, 1945. When Ernest was discharged on October 17th, 1945 they returned to the family ranch and along with his brother, Francis Jr., and parents, they expanded the family ranch to include three adjoining properties. Throughout his lifetime, Ernest was able to share his love of the wildlife, mountains and land while working for the Forest Service. During these years he packed a book describing the various wild flowers and plant life. He taught himself the Latin names of the plant life and shared this knowledge with all that were with him, often bringing a bouquet of wildflowers home to his wife at the end of the day. In addition he used his art abilities to make many of the signs welcoming visitors into the Grand Mesa National Forest. After leaving the Forest Service, Ernest worked as a counselor at the Collbran Job Corp. He influenced many young men's lives during his time at the Job Corp. helping them find a trade to take them further in life, often bringing them home on the weekends to experience a bit of ranch life. After Ernest retired from the Federal Government, he was able to devote his full time to the love of his family, the land and the cattle he raised. The cattle were his friends and followed him everywhere when they heard the sound of his vehicles and his calling "come boss - come bossy". He was never without his best friend, a loving dog beside him. Ernest and Helen made the decision in 2007 to ease into full-time retirement in a lovely home in Palisade. They made many more dear friends while enjoying those still from the valley dropping by for a visit to share coffee, cookies and good conversation. Thanks to his close friend, Stan, he was convinced to attend the Honor Flight in May, 2011 to Washington, DC. Ernest enjoyed wiggling his ears and doing head rumbles to entertain children and always tried to bring a smile with his quick wit and twist on words. He taught his family to appreciate nature, good people and the simple joys of life. His crippled hands were always busy with work, art requests and often whittled making beautiful walking sticks and canes. We greatly appreciate the kindness and excellent care provided by the caregivers offered through the VA. They became a special part of our family. Thank you also to all our friends and extended family who have expressed their love and support to our family. Ernest will be missed but never forgotten. A committal service will take place on Thursday, October 31, 2013, at Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado, Committal Shelter, 2830 Riverside Parkway, Grand Junction at 1:00 p.m. Refreshments to follow from 2 - 4:00 p.m. at Western Slope Post 3981, 503 1/2 Florence Road, Grand Junction. (NW of I 70 Business Loop and 30 Road). Donations can be made to Grand Junction VA Medical Center, Hospice/CLC Fund, Customer Relations Dept., 2121 North Ave., Grand Junction, CO 81501. With Love and Gratitude, Ernest Chapman's family.
Published in The Daily Sentinel on Oct. 27, 2013
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