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Our remarkable hero Ernie, husband, father, papa and friend passed over the rainbow on October 15th to begin his sacred journey pain free and leaving those who knew and loved him an enduring legacy of love, strength, joy, courage, wisdom and inspiration that will forever be a source of comfort as we continue to honor him through the way we live our lives. We are grateful for the everyday expressions of love and kindness we have experienced through Ernie's long journey. He had to leave us much too soon.
Ernie was born on October 5, 1945 in Kirkland, Washington to Dale and Vera Packebush, the third of four children. Raised in Kirkland, he graduated from Lake Washington High School and attended Eastern Washington University on a football scholarship. It was at Eastern that Ernie and Johna met and began planning their future together. They were married in 1968, the same year he volunteered for the draft during the Vietnam War where he was with Combat Operations Intelligence-Long Range Patrol. He openly opposed the war, but was willing to serve his country, though sadly regretted all the harm that was done to so many and for all the lives that were lost or forever changed due to the conflict.
After returning from Vietnam, Ernie completed his education at Eastern, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology. In 1971 his son Jakob was born and his daughter Kami was born in 1973.
Ernie's career path was very purposeful and rewarding, as he strived through the years to help others less fortunate and give back along the way. He began his 30 year career in juvenile justice in Adams county and then Olympia. He then administered programs for Adult Correctional institutions, retiring as Superintendent of Pine Lodge Correctional Center in 1998. After retirement, he had the opportunity to become the Regional Director for Aacres Allvest-a residential services program for developmentally disabled adults, retiring as Washington State Director in April of 2010. He had been retired less than two years when diagnosed with a very rare type of sarcoma attributed to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
His greatest accomplishment was being a superb husband and father. He always put his family first and was so proud of his children and grandchildren, making sure they felt loved and treasured every single day. He rarely missed attending their soccer, baseball or basketball games and school concerts and was always a very present part of their lives.
Ernie loved to play golf with his son and grandsons and his Tuesday/Thursday golfing buddies, especially at MeadowWood. He was thrilled that his grandsons also shared his love of the game. It was pure joy for him to be out on the course with them. Jake and Ernie and friends always looked forward to their annual golfing trips. He had such fun with his over 60 softball team- win or lose. He was an avid Zag basketball fan and loved attending the games each season. Cribbage games with Ernie, Jake, Brandon and his brother Jerry were so competitive, that he was still keeping a tally during his final days.
Ernie was preceded in death by his parents; and his younger sister, Kathy. He is survived by his wife, Johna; his son, Jakob Packebush; daughter in law, Staci; grandchildren, Garrett and Owen; his daughter, Kami Carlson; son in law, Paul; grandchildren, Brandon and Gracie; as well as his brother, Jerry; and his sister, Corrine. He also leaves behind a loving extended family and many wonderful dear friends.
Many thanks to the amazing, loving staff at Sunshine Gardens for their tender care and kindness during this challenging time for Ernie and our family. Thank you also to Dr. Andrew Howlett, Dr. Robert Laugen, Dr. Wayne Lamoreaux, and Dr. John Hatheway, Chrystal and Katie for their special care and expertise.
There will be a celebration of life for Ernie on Saturday, October 27th from 1:00-4:00 PM at the Lincoln Center- 1316 North Lincoln St. Spokane, WA 99201 Donations may be made to Hospice of Spokane or the Spokane Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary.
Published in Spokesman-Review from Oct. 21 to Oct. 22, 2012