Erwin "Ernie" Goree Ernst was born on July 27, 1924 in Burlington, Wisconsin to his musician-father, Erwin Ferdinand Ernst and writer-mother, Claire Ashford Ernst and passed away July 24, 2013 in his home in Huntsville surrounded by friends and family.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 27, 2013 in the chapel of Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home at 10 a.m. with Pastor Reagan Cooksey officiating.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are Les Pool, Don Kramer, Frank Blazek and Herman Myers.
Ernie spent his early years in Huntsville, Kerrville, and Kingsville, Texas following his father's musical collegiate vocation. An avid trombone player and lover of music, Ernie graduated from Kingsville High School in 1942. He entered the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and proudly served in WWII during the Pacific Theater of Operations as a crew member of a Transport Aircraft-Medical Air Evacuation. He was awarded the Air Medal for his participation and was honorably discharged in 1946. Ernie attended Texas A&I College, University of Wichita, Sam Houston State University (pre-law), and graduated from Baylor University in 1950 with his law degree. In 1948, Ernie married his muse, Virginia Wallace of Bryan, Texas at the First Presbyterian Church of Bryan, Texas. They recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
Ernie practiced law in Post and Lamesa, Texas until 1954 when he moved to Houston, Texas to enter the law firm of Gwin, Meyers, and Wommack. He joined the Harris County District Attorney's Office in 1955 and participated actively as a Prosecuting Attorney until 1972 when he resigned as Chief of the Felony Trial Division to move to Huntsville, Texas to become an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University. His move was on the heels of the mistrial of Dr. John Hill, whom he prosecuted and the event was chronicled in the book Blood & Money.
In 1974, Ernie was named General Counsel to the Texas Department of Corrections where he remained until 1976 when he was appointed to the newly-created post of District Attorney of Walker County, Texas. In 1978, Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Ernie as Judge of the 12th District until his retirement in 1988. In 1988, he was certified as Senior District Judge which allowed him to try cases throughout the State of Texas upon assignment. Ernie continued to serve as a legal legend as an active Senior Judge, still wearing his trademark string ties.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia Wallace Ernst; brother, Tony Ernst; son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Mark, MaryAnne and Zachary Ernst; daughter and son-in-law, Regina and Fred Guthrie; and daughter-in-law Rhonda Ernst of Bedias, along with his dog Ray.
His family wish to thank Les Pool for his never-ending friendship, Dianne Smith for her kind and tender caregiving, and the employees of Traditions Home Health & Hospice.
Those wishing to leave memorial condolences for the family may do so at www.shmfh.com and, in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the