With a trace of that handsome smile on his face, Ernie passed away in excellent care and comfort at Comox Hospice on Vancouver Island, with loved ones at his bedside.
We loved you dad, everybody did.
Ernie was predeceased by his first wife Christeen (nee Watson), beloved mother of his three surviving children, Catherine Rumsby (much loved son inlaw Tom) of Toronto, David of Kitimat, and Edward of Victoria, as well as grandsons Benjamin and Zachary.
Ernie was also predeceased by his beloved partner Fern Barber, who he joined in Comox in 2001 and worked with for many years in various volunteer executive positions at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 160. Fern’s daughter Judy Durand and husband Gerry were instrumental in Ernie’s care and comfort in the years after Fern’s death and in his final days.
The family reunion was a highlight on Ernie’s calendar, where his large extended family would gather to dance and laugh, talk and play, comfort and console, with relatives too numerous to mention here. Ernie was always very close to his sister Margaret (Peggy) Mills of Ontario, who had a chance to visit last year.
Son of Hardy and Dorothy Mills, Ernie was born in Toronto and raised in Oshawa. He raised his family primarily in Brampton, ON., and reached the pinnacle of his working career, and some serious money, as an executive at Trans-Alta Utilities in Calgary, AB.
Ernie was an accomplished multisport athlete in his youth, but it was in hockey where he made his mark in arenas across southern Ontario. A hard-nosed left winger, tales of Ernie’s exploits on the ice are still told by the guys who played against him, and many have the scars to prove it!
Ernie was elected into the Oshawa Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013 along with his teamates on the 1958 All-Ontario championship team, as part of an amazing story that would make a compelling book — he would like George Clooney to play him in the movie.
Following his playing days, Ernie was a sought-after coach in minor hockey, where he guided a number of top-level teams and players to success. His no-puck, all-skate practices are stuff of legend among his former players.
In retirement, Ernie spent several years as a consultant with Trans Alta, and as an executive volunteer with the Canadian Diabetes Association in Calgary. He left those positions to adventure in Mexico for several years, where he actually bought a horse and rode along the Sierra Madres…just like Clint Eastwood!
Ernie had the gift of being able to celebrate life every day. A celebration of his life with a Maple Leaf Service will take place at the Legion Branch 160 Comox on February 21 at 3 pm.
In lieu of donations, have a drink at the Legion, Anyone Can Join. Ernie would like that, and if he were there, you’d have had a new friend before the drink was done.