Ernest's Story

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April 4, 1923—May 15, 2015 Ernest Simon, 92, of Pleasant Hill, passed away May 15, 2015, at Wharton Nursing Home of Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill from complications due to a fall several weeks earlier. A memorial service will be held at the Community Church in Pleasant Hill Saturday, July 18, at 10:30 a.m. Ernest — "Ernie" to all who knew him — was born April 4, 1923, in Wallingford, CT, the third of four children, to Hungarian immigrants. He graduated from Lyman Hall High School in 1941, from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, in 1946, and from Andover Newton Thelological School in Newton Centre, MA, in 1949. Ernie married Ruth Reynolds in 1948 and they had two sons. Dr. Stuart Simon, a musician, lives in Denver, CO, and Dr. Mark Simon works for the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He spent his intern year at Edwards Congregational Church in Northampton, MA, where Mrs. Calvin Coolidge was an active member. His first parish was at the First Congregational Church in South Egremont, MA, where he spent three years before moving to Warren, MA, as pastor of the Federated Church. In 1958, Ernie accepted a call to Bushnell Congregational Church in Detroit, MI, where he served as minister to youth. From 1966 to 1972 he was pastor at the First Congregational Church in Melbourne, FL, where he also served as president of the area Race Relations Association. In 1972, Ernie accepted a call to serve the Church by the Sea in Bal Harbour, FL, as an associate pastor. About his work he said, "Because I was poor in my early years I developed a feeling that I didn't really deserve more than a second rate and I should be satisfied with that. For this reason, I have always felt a special empathy toward the underdog in my ministry. I feel that I have helped many of them. I seemed to be the only one who understood them and accepted their faults." He retired at 63 and moved to the Uplands Retirement Community in Pleasant Hill where he spent the rest of his life. He took an active role at the Pleasant Hill Community Church, serving on numerous boards and committees. He created the hiking trail around Lake Alice in Pleasant Hill. He and Ruth participated in more than 25 Elderhostel programs and made several trips to Europe. Most especially, he became an active, enthusiastic and beloved participant in the Cumberland County Playhouse where, in over ten years, he performed in 13 productions with more than 350 performances. He also portrayed Thomas Hughes at the Rugby Christmas celebration in Rugby, TN. Ernie was predeceased by his parents, Julius and Susie Simon; his brother, Julius (Hope); his older sister, Helen (Bob) Dawson; and his wife, Ruth, who passed away in 2008. He is survived by his sons, Stuart and Mark (Kristen Ebert); his younger sister, Irene Thomas; and nephews, Blake (Linda) Thomas, Kent (Pamela) Thomas, Jonathan (Sue) Thomas, Peter (Rose) Simon, David (Alicia) Dawson and Sandra (David) Jasch. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Cumberland County Playhouse at P.O. Box 484, Crossville, TN 38557. Obituary information courtesy Bilbrey Funeral Home, Inc. (www.bilbreyfh.com).
Published on  July 14, 2015
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