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Ernest Rideout
1917 - 2015
Santa Cruz Memorial Oakwood Chapel
3301 Paul Sweet Rd
Santa Cruz, CA
Ernest Rideout
October 6, 1917 - June 3, 2015
Resident of Santa Cruz
When Ernest Rideout passed away on June 3, 2015, at home with his beloved wife Nancy at his side, Santa Cruz lost a legend, and we all lost a beacon of light.
Born on October 6, 1917, into a family of sailors, Ernie continued that tradition throughout his life. He joined the Santa Cruz Yacht Club in 1933 at the age of 15 and served as SCYC Commodore in 1983. Ernie was a well known racer in San Francisco Bay circles. Over a lifetime of sailing he was an Acorn, Bear and Columbia 29 class champion, and winner of hundreds of sailing trophies and awards. In 2006 and 2008, at the ages of 88 and 90 respectively, he won the Santana 22 National Championship Race. In 2007, Ernie and his good friend Jack O'Neill, both received the "Legends of the Harbor Award" at a special ceremony at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. In 2008, at age 91, Ernie won two distinguished sailing awards: the Pacific Coast Yachting Association's Langlais Trophy for exceptional service to the sport of yachting, and the Roger Condon Award for excellence of sailing by the wind and sharing those traditions with others. He was selected twice by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club to be Yachtsman of the Year, first in 1984 and again in 2006. Ernie was a lifetime member of the Santa Cruz Yacht Club, an honorary guest member of the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, and a member and past president of the Santa Cruz Lawn Bowling Club.
Ernie was born on the family farm in what is now downtown Willow Glen. He grew up on a ranch on 1st Street, south of San Jose. His mother, Charlotte Rideout, taught at San Jose State College where she was head of the English department for many years. His father, Ransom, taught at UC Berkeley and in Los Angeles. Ernest attended San Jose High School and graduated from San Jose State College. In 1942 he joined the army and attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Before shipping out he married Barbara Maas, also born and raised in San Jose.
At the end of the war he returned home to his growing family and enrolled at Stanford University, receiving his Masters degree in education. He became a teacher at Gardner Elementary School in San Jose where he started a chess club for his young students, instilling in them his love for the game. He became principal of Cypress Elementary School when it opened in 1952, and then in 1958 transferred as principal to Dover Elementary School, both in the Campbell School District. After retiring in 1979, he began teaching sailing through O'Neill's Yacht Center in Santa Cruz. During the next 26 years he taught over 3500 people to both sail and love the sea. Ernie was not only an expert and knowledgeable teacher, but he had the gentle calmness and patience that enabled anyone to learn.
With his first wife Barbara, Ernie raised five children; Philip, Douglass, Bambi, Walter, and Lucie. In 1963 his first marriage ended and two years later he married Betty Anne Tomlinson. In December, 1965, he and Betty Anne welcomed daughter Kate into their lives. It was soon discovered Kate had severe brain damage. With news that might have devastated another man, Ernest instead devoted himself to learning as much as he could about special needs children and making the next 16 years of her short life as stimulating and comfortable as possible. His eldest son Phillip died in 1971 at age 28, his youngest son Walter, in 1979 at age 30, and then his little angel Kate passed away in 1982 at the age of 16. In October, 1997, he lost his wife Betty Anne to lymphoma.
Now 80 years old, little did Ernie know a new and wonderful stage of his life was soon to begin. On a sunny afternoon in June, 1999, while lawn bowling at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz, he met Nancy Silsby, a woman who would become, not only his third wife, but the love of his life. He commemorated their meeting with a brass plate (which can still be found) on the bench where he first set eyes on her. They were married two years later on a boat on Monterey Bay. Together, Ernie and Nancy traveled, danced, and lived life to the fullest, and of course he continued to race his Santana 22, "Maybe", winning even more awards and honors. Then in 2011, forever the teacher with the generous heart, he donated his boat to the UCSC Youth Sailing Program at the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Ernie will be missed by the thousands of people whose lives he has touched. As Dan Haifley once said, "Ernie Rideout was a man who never met a stranger."
Ernie leaves behind his wife Nancy, brothers Ransom and Hugh, son Douglass (Julie), daughters Bambi Bovee (Stan), and Lucie Rossi (Neal Coonerty); sister-in-law Kerny McLaughlin (Bill Schilit); step-daughters Robin Tomlinson, Wendy Snawder, Karen Tomlinson, and Joscelyn, Gilien and Candice Silsby; grandchildren Becky Wolfe, Sarah Wong, Malia Rideout, Robert Rideout, Erik Bovee, Izak Bovee, Vincent Rossi, and Marianne Rossi; step-grandchildren Bobby and Danny Leonis, Jimmy, Charlie and Scott Clinkenbeard, Wilson and Gabriel Caicedo and Elayna Goepel; and 18 great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank Miguela Lewis for her friendship and devoted care.
In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to:
O'Neill Sea Odyssey, 2222 East Cliff Dr, Suite 222, Santa Cruz, CA 95062.
If you would like to offer condolences to Ernie's family, share your memories and light a candle in his memory please visit

Published by Santa Cruz Sentinel from Jun. 12 to Jun. 13, 2015.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
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Funeral services provided by:
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16 Entries
Long time friend of Rideout Family. Awesome family
Donald Johnson
June 6, 2021
Having sailed with Ernie's father and brother and my son, Torsten. was on the Rideout Sailing school at O'Neills.
Fond memories of them all.
Donald Johnson
June 6, 2021
In saying goodbye to Ernie, we lost a good man. I consider myself privileged to have known him.
Rest in peace, Ernie!
Andy Carson
July 6, 2015
I was one of Ernie's students at Gardner School in 1948 when he came out of the service. He was my role model and and mindset for eventually becoming a teacher and a principal. It was a privilege to have been a part of his life.....Art Villarruz
Art Villarruz
June 22, 2015
I'm sorry to here about your father. I remember meeting him through Doug when I was 14. A very kind man. Doug and my brother took me out sailing for my first time then. I was hooked.
Marsha Angelo
June 19, 2015
To Ernie's family and friends we send our sympathy for the loss of a vibrant life and celebrate that same vitality.
Van and Susan Tunstall
June 17, 2015
My condolences to Ernie's family.
Having known the Rideout family, including Ernie's parents, for a long time I will miss seeing him.
Donald Johnson
Torsten Johnson
June 16, 2015
I will forever be thankful to have had Ernie's influence in my life. He was a kind and caring man who taught me so much. Phil, Bambi and Lucie - my heart is with you.

Robin Tomlinson
June 16, 2015
June 15, 2015
Amy Franks
June 14, 2015
Amy Franks
June 14, 2015
Amy Franks
June 14, 2015
Ernie was my first sailing instructor many years ago.
Through the years, he was always an inspiration to me and hundreds of other would-be sailors.


and --- Fair Winds

Noah Flores
June 14, 2015
I was one of your students at Cypress and you were my favorite principal. You and your ever-present smile will remain forever in my memory. Safe journey Mr. Rideout
Cynthia Collins
June 13, 2015
Enjoying dinner at the SCYC with Ernie and Nancy, always a pleasure to visit with, listen to stories. RIP - Carol Elsworthy
June 13, 2015
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