- About Us
Robert Orman Ernest arrived in this world December 23,1921. The first child of Robert Benjamin Ernest and Alfa Davis Ernest. Five years later he was joined by a brother, Loren Eugene Ernest. They grew up in Decatur, Illinois. As a child Robert loved to draw, particularly horses. Weekly he would submit his drawings to the newspaper where they were printed. He attended kindergarten at Milliken University and later matriculated there as an undergraduate student. It was at Milliken that he met Elizabeth Anne Attebery from Hillsboro, Ilinois, his future wife. While at Milliken the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and America was drawn into WWII. Bob enlisted in the Air Corp, later to become the Air Force. Bob, Ernie to his military buddies, was selected for a small group, Detatchment J, that worked with the nascient RADAR. They proved that RADAR could be used as an offensive weapon not just for defense. During the war Bob and Elizabeth wrote daily, making plans for their future.
After the war Bob returned to Decatur. Milliken had given him credits for his education in the service and graduated him in absentia. Elizabeth was teaching home economics at Hillsboro High School and living with her parents on their farm just outside town. They were married at this home on September 2,1946. Bob wanted to get a teaching certificate so he went to the University of Illinois, but due to the housing shortage he was quartered in a large building with other GI's and Elizabeth had to remain in Hillsboro.
During this time Bob was exposed to industrial design, in this field he could combine his artistic and engineering interests. So he furthered his education with a second degree in fine arts. Eventually they were able to find housing, so Elizabeth joined him and pursued a Master's Degree in Home Economics.
After they both graduated Bob accepted a job with Sunbeam Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. Bob spent his career at Sunbeam taking the department from a two man operation to one of the largest industrial design departments in the world. His department received many awards and he personally held close to two hundred patents.
Elizabeth went about the business of rearing their three children, Pamela Jane, Robert Charles and Dorothy Alfa. She spent endless hours sewing, cooking and canning. Elizabeth loved entertaining and interior decorating designing and tailoring curtains, bedspreads and pillows. They were both active in their children's school as well as Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Oak Park, IL. They held many positions at the church but, most rewarding was together they taught Sunday school for over 43 years. Bob would design pictures with cut outs for the children to paste and use his "magic scissors" to amaze children as they tried to guess what he was creating. While Elizabeth presented the lessons, played the piano, sang with the children, made clay and read stories.
After retirement Bob and Elizabeth bought the family farm in Hillsboro and split their time between the farm and Oak Park. They planted fruit, nut, and deciduous trees, as well as gardened, growing from seed a large variety of tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, gourds, pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumbers. One year they had over three hundred tomato plants.
Although Elizabeth passed in 2007, Robert continued to enjoy the farm until his death.
Robert is survived by his three children: Pamela Gutterman (Burton), Robert C. (Terese), Dorothy Cleys (Larry); eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Loren Ernest.
His sparkling blue eyes and engaging smile will be forever missed.