NEW YORK — Earnest Ralph Oney passed away peacefully at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx on May 24, 2014, one week shy of his 94th birthday.
Born in Wellington, Ohio, on Memorial Day, May 31, 1920, he was the eldest of four boys born to Ethel Lucinda (Gadfield) and Ernest Preston Oney.
Ernie served as a Medic in World War II as part of the 26th Infantry Yankee Division. With his division, he landed at Utah Beach in September 1944, saw action at the Battle of the Bulge, and was part of the forces liberating Gusen Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart. He also served with the OSS, the Office of Special Services, as a linguist and decoder.
An avid scholar and linguist, Ernie received his master's degrees from Ashland College and the Sorbonne in Paris, and his Ph.D in linguistics from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in 1950. He was recruited there by Allen Dulles to join the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency. He spent the next 30 years as a political analyst on the Middle Eastern desk, with assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. He served two tours in Iran, one as chief of station for the Middle East.
Ernie married Helen Taylor, whom he had met when they were serving as lab technicians at Camp Campbell, Ky., on Jan. 13, 1946. She pre-deceased him Feb. 26, 2013, after 67 years of an adventurous marriage.
Upon retiring, Ernie continued to teach, write, and serve as a congressional advisor on the Middle East. He also continued to pursue his lifelong interest in HAM radio operation (he had received his radio license at age 10) as part of the Army Net, connecting service men and women overseas with their families He and Helen moved to Winchester, Va., in 1985, living in their lovingly restored Civil War-era home. There he served in the Virginia Defense Force as communications specialist, flying on rescue and drug surveillance missions.
In 1999 they moved to Croton on Hudson, N.Y., to be closer to family. In his later retirement years, he continued to write and pursue his interest in genealogy research.
Ernie is survived by his children, Tom (Peggy) of Ozark, Mo., and Myra Oney (Ned Hatton) of Croton on Hudson, N.Y.; grandchildren Zachary Oney-Hatton of Croton on Hudson, Megan Hegwood (Chad) of Des Moines, Iowa, Darby Krug (Cody) of Pleasant Hill, Mo., Kaylin Kirkey (Chris) of Ozark, Mo., Molly Oney of Ozark, Mo.; and great-grandchildren Peyton and Gauge Hegwood, Julia Krug, and Zedd Kirkey. He is also survived by several loving nieces and nephews. He has gone to join Helen and his loving brothers and sisters-in-law, Bob (Wilma) Oney, Chuck (Mary Vivian) Oney, and Dick Oney, and his beloved nephew Sean Oney in this new adventure.
Ernie was a loving father who dedicated his life in service to his country, and he will be greatly missed. The family is grateful to the loving and compassionate care of the doctors, nurses, and staff of Calvary Hospital hospice care. He and Helen will be put to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony at a later date.