May 13, 1923 ~ Oct. 14, 2021
Ernie went home to his Lord on Oct. 14, 2021, at approximately 8:30 p.m. MDT. He made his arrival on Earth on May 13, 1923. He was welcomed by his parents, Emilio and Marcellina (Vigil) Garcia and older brother, Don. They were later joined by brother Candido.
Ernie lived his youth at his family’s homestead in Redwing, Colorado, surrounded by lots of family, as other members had homesteaded in the valley as well. He attended school in Redwing until he dropped out at the end of eighth grade to help on the farm. When he was ready to return to school, the teacher wanted him to test and go through eighth grade again, so Ernie decided that was the last of his public school education. Feb. 19, 1940, Ernie earned a certificate in taxidermy. Later, through books, he taught himself how to be a carpenter which he used many times over the years to earn income or supplement his income. In the early 1970s he received education in Kansas City on becoming a machinist. So in reality, he was a lifelong learner.
Oct. 10, 1940 to April 10, 1942, Ernie worked for the Civilian Conservation Corp, doing road construction with the CO.828, Camp F-60-C, out of Monument, Colorado.
As with a lot of young men that lived in the Pueblo, Colorado, area, at 19 years old, Ernie worked for the U.S. Army Engineers at the Pueblo Ordnance Depot in Avondale, Colorado. He later worked there again as a maintenance carpenter.
During WWII, Ernie was drafted into the Army where he served as a private in the 2nd Infantry Division (known as the Indianhead Division), as a medic from July 2, 1943, until Oct. 7, 1945, in Europe. Ernie was a conscientious objector and didn’t carry a weapon. As a medic he earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star for Valor, a World War II Victory medal, a Combat Medical badge, and an Honorable Service lapel button.
Ernie married the love of his life, Martha Rael, on Aug. 24, 1945, while on a short leave from the Army. During their almost 53 years of marriage they lived in several places around Colorado — Redwing, Gardner, Ridgeway, Pueblo and Meeker. Meeker became their home in 1948 and they bought their first house in Meeker. Meeker is where they raised their six children: Virgil, Ruby, Elefar, Cathie, Rory and Dirck. All of their children went through the Meeker school system, as have most of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Ernie became a member of The American Legion soon after moving to Meeker and later a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. At the 2021 Fourth of July parade in Meeker, he was recognized as the oldest living member of both organizations with 70-plus years. Over the years he donated many hours as Post Commander, an honor guard at funerals and color guard when needed.
Upon moving to Meeker, Ernie worked for the Miller Creek Ditch Company. After that he had many occupations, one was working for Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge as an equipment operator. He last operated a road grader and was rewarded every year at Christmas time by the farmers and ranchers on RBC Rd. 5, who he kept plowed out. After a devastating accident at the Road and Bridge he was trained to be a machinist and worked for L.E. Idol’s John Deere Shop. He worked as a ranch-hand at Dan and Jerry Seely’s and Iva Sheridan’s, among others. He worked around town as a carpenter doing a variety of jobs. He was proud of the work he accomplished with Bill Moody building Ruby Hart’s log garage where they used no nails or screws, it was all pegged.
For many, many years Ernie was an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed spending weekends camping with his family and friends in the White River National Forest. Ernie passed this love onto his family, as you will often find his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids camping, hunting and fishing. Ernie and Martha spent many years entertaining the friends, near and far, they made while partaking in those activities.
Ernie was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, his brothers, all of his brother and sister-in-laws but one, his son Rory, grandson Joey Garcia, great-grandson Kylen Nielsen, son-in-law Bud Renfrow and daughter-in-law Karen Garcia.
Surviving Ernie are his sister-in-law Betty Garcia of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and his special caregiver, Kent Priddy.
His children: Ruby (Duane) Davis, Fallon, Nevada; Elefar Garcia, Craig, Colorado; and living in Meeker are Virgil; Cathie (Hal) Dolan, and Dirck (Sondra) Garcia.
Fourteen grandchildren: Marci (Kent) Nielsen; Shelly (Marvin) Reynolds; Roberta (Buck Fronatt) Kinnamon; Stanley (Amber) Garcia; Kaycee (Joe) Sullivan; Danny Garcia; Rusty (Dan) Diaz; Shannon (Carrie Sheldon) Davis; Toby (Sonya) Garcia; Sacha (Joe Keller) Garcia; Travis (Laurie) Garcia; Luke (JoLyn) Dolan; Scott (Candice Wilson Hauck) Garcia; and Kelli Garcia.
Thirty-six great-grandchildren: Tristan (Ross) McGee; Daylon (Fallon Richmond); Derek and Kaleb Nielsen; Jake (Kelsey Stroud) Nielsen; Cody, Karlee and Colton Nielsen; Logan (Lyndsay) Kinnamon; Bailey (Christian Branas) Kinnamon; Keenan McGruder; Braydon, Brealyn and Taylor Garcia; Ryan and Rylee Sullivan; Ashdon Seibert; Jordyn Garcia; Tomas (Jessica) Diaz; Sarah (Sterling Lee) Diaz and Addison Diaz; Zandar and Zoey Sheldon-Davis; Hunter, Hayden and Hoyt Garcia; Chance, Mariah and Preston Davis; Lindsie Garcia; Savana and Sierra Garcia; Christian Wilson; Alayna and Paige Hauck; Blair and Elise Dolan.
Five great-great grandchildren and one on the way: Luke and Nathan Kinnamon; Ryder and Sawyer Diaz; Reata Lee.
A funeral mass will be held Wednesday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m., at Holy Family Catholic Church in Meeker, followed by graveside services at Highland Cemetery in Meeker. Following burial, a meal will be served in the 4-H Building at the fairgrounds in Meeker.
Memorial contributions may be made in Ernie’s name to the VFW/American Legion Posts, P.O. Box 825, Meeker, Colorado, 81641. These two veteran organizations do so much to help the veterans in our community and have been a big part of Ernie’s life.