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Service Information
The Peterson Chapel of Buffalo
Thursday, December 17, 2009
4 PM

Visitation Information

Milton Frank Ernst, age 87, of Buffalo passed away on Saturday, December 12, 2009. Milton was born on the 28th of November in 1922 to Eric Arthur Ernst and Anna Boese Ernst. He was born in the same house that his mother grew up in. All of the siblings were born at home, not in a hospital. His grandfather had built that house in 1889, along with the barn and other buildings on the property, which are all still standing. Milt was the youngest of the four boys. Milt never saw a TV until after he was married. There was no electricity until he was a teenager. From the time he could walk, he knew that everyone had chores to do. The wood for the firebox had to be carried in and the water pail filled each day. They had one hand pump outside for their personal water and another pump down by the barn for the animals. They had the normal outdoor biffy with the Sears Robuck Catalog. It would be many years before the house would have inside plumbing. One chore Milt always hated was picking rocks. The field to the south side of the house seemed able to grow its own rocks. Every year those boys would be out their picking rocks before the corn could be planted. Another daily chore was to bring the cows in for milking. A short ride on a horse and they could send the cows down the lane in front of the pasture for the milking. The family raised some sugar cane, had it made in to sorgum, and tapped the Maple trees each spring for syrup. Anna raised a huge garden each year, and canned all the vegetables that she could to get them through the winter months. To keep things cool, they had an icebox. Large chunks of ice were cut from the lake and stored in an icehouse. That ice was used all summer to keep the food cool. They also had the well pit. A container of butter could be lowered down in to the well pit and stay nicely cool even in the heat of summer. They were getting two cents a dozen for the eggs back then. That was not enough to pay for new clothes. So, the overalls would be patched and patched again. Very little was ever purchased in town. The farm took care of most of their needs. For flour, they would bring 2 bags of wheat to the Hanover Mill with its huge turning stone and water wheel. They would bring home one bag of flour to bake with. Fishing at BeeBee Lake was a fun escape from the regular chores. Yet, the fishing, like the other chores, was really serious business and for the purpose of feeding the family. Milt enjoyed bringing home the fish that were nearly bigger than he was. His cane pole was well used. Fish for dinner was a nice break from the normal sausage or ham. The country roads were never plowed during the wintertime. So, even when they owned a car, it was still necessary to hitch up the team and use the bobsled to go the church. Large stones would be heated up and put under a heavy blanket to keep everyone warm while they went to church. All of this background shaped Milt in to the man that he became. The Navy gave him training in electrical circuits, officers training and training in communications. He was there when sonar was just being developed. The Navy showed him a side of life that he had not seen back on the farm. The first time he saw Pearl Harbor was back in 1941. It was an impressive site to see with so many ships with their colorful flags on display. Milt was one day away from being docked at Pearl Harbor on the day Pearl Harbor was hit. He could never forget the difference that one-day could make. The Saratoga was an aircraft carrier with about 4000 people on board. The Saratoga was home for a number of years for Milt. With two stints in the Navy and one in the reserves, the Navy had also done its share to shape Milt in to the man he became. Hard working, serious, determined, a fighter, strong willed and dedicated to his home, country and family. It must have seemed very natural to later work for Honeywell, a defense contractor, with the job of developing weapons to protect our country. While working on intricate electrical systems or riding an army tank out in the Honeywell parking lot, Honeywell became his next extended family that shaped his thinking. During that time, he and his wife Doris were raising 5 children with all of those values he had learned. He was a stubborn, strict taskmaster. Not only with his children, with also with the men who worked for him at Honeywell. He retired from Honeywell in 1984. He did years of volunteer work. His children are grown, with many grandchildren and great grandchildren all knowing him as a solid force in their lives. The impression he left on many will never be forgotten. Milton is survived by his sons: Randi (Barb) Ernst, Jodi (Mari) Ernst and Darci (Lisa) Ernst; daughters: Cheri (Ralph) Mertesdorf of Texas and Roxi Huff of Plymouth; brother Courtney (Phylis) Ernst of Montana; sister-in-law Dorothea Ernst; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his loving wife of 60 years, Doris Ernst; parents Eric (Anna) Ernst and brothers, Eugene Ernst and Lt. Gerhardt “Jerry” Ernst. A funeral service for Milton will be held on Thursday, December 17 at 4 PM at The Peterson Chapel in Buffalo. Visitation will be from 2-4 PM at the funeral home. Burial with military honors will be at Swedish Mission Cemetery in Buffalo. Serving the family….

1 Guestbook Entry

  1. Don & Laureen Bodin

    Sorry to hear of the passing of your father, Randi and Barb. Many sympathies to all of your family.


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