Ernie was a very talented man. He knew he had to have a job and a home to live in before I arrived from England. Growing up during the great depression and knowing what it was like to face hunger and poverty he had a very strong desire to never go through that again. It took me a few years to understand what was driving him to work night and day whenever possible. He chose to apprentice as a Motor mechanic. This served him well. Eventually he was employed by Alberta Government Telephones to run a garage for their fleet of trucks in a new plant in Edmonton.
Besides his strong work ethic there was another side to his character.
During our life long membership in the Catholic Church we both had many parts to play. The most recent for Ernie was chair of the liturgy committee. He ran this with ease and was loved and respected by all. All accept a certain visiting clergyman. True to his character Ernie poured the left over wine back into the bottle, as he did every Sunday to the absolute horror of the visiting priest. To go deeper into his character I often saw a softer side to the man .He had compassion for anyone alone or hurting. He took it upon himself to stand around at coffee time after mass and watch for any newcomers and introduce them to older parish members.
Maybe this part of him can be illustrated best by remembering his time with The Christopher Movement teaching “Effective Speaking”, which is very similar to “Toastmaster”. He never liked following rules and this was no exception. Their rules stated who, where, and when they could teach. He chose to teach who he wanted. In those days we volunteered at the Marion Centre in Edmonton where the poor and homeless go each day for a meal. It is run by the Madonna House apostolate. He made it known amongst the men who frequented this place that he would teach them how to speak well in public. A class full turned up. He gave this special class 100% the best lesson he could for them.
One man struck him deeply. On the final day they had to pick an object and talk about it to the class. This one man chose his overcoat to speak about. He showed them all the six pockets he had sewn inside the coat and what each pocket was for. He carried all his earthly goods with him in those pockets. Of all the many classes Ernie taught including one for the Catholic Women´s League, in which our daughter Marie Terese was a pupil. I think the one he gave to the homeless men was the most memorable for him.
written by Eileen Little, December 2014 reflecting on the 4th anniversary of Ernie’s death