A life remembered - A real Pearl to her family

July 11, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back at a member of the community who died in the past week through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Pearl Eva Ernst, who died July 4 at the age of 91. Her obituary appeared in the July 6 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

CLEAR SPRING - In years to come as Andrew Ernst thinks about his grandmother, his thoughts will drift back to her good cooking, including her celebrated iced tea.

"She made the best iced tea I've ever had, complete with mint she picked from her own garden," he said as he gathered with family to share memories of warm moments spent with Pearl Eva Ernst, who passed away July 4 at the age of 91.

Greg Ernst, Pearl's son, said he recalls how his mother always told people she didn't work even though she spent many hours in the Ernst Country Market, which she and her late husband, Orville Milton Ernst, started in 1945 in nearby Charlton.


Her husband of 54 years died in 1987.

Ernst Country Market moved to its present location at 11650 Dam No. 5 Road in the 1950s and continues to be a family business to this day, current owner Greg Ernst said.

"In addition to working in the store, mom also raised three sons, kept a garden and ran a household," he said of the woman who was proud to describe herself as a homemaker. But as her family insisted, she was so much more.

Elder son Charles Ernst said his mother always worried about her children. Caring for them through the years was her top priority.

Daughter-in-law Luanne Ernst said Pearl's caring ways even filtered down to the smallest of God's creatures.

"There would always be jar lids filled with water around the house," she said. "She said they were for the crickets to drink."

Middle son Thomas, who admitted being a mischief-maker as a child, said he often tormented his mother with his antics.

"Still, she never had a mean word for anyone," he said.

As the family gathered around a dining room table in Thomas and Sharon Ernst's home, the stories began to flow, one triggering another as each took turns summoning up their own favorite tales.

"She loved animals of all kinds, especially cats," Charles Ernst said.

That brought a smile to Greg Ernst, who said his mother often would try to overcome his childhood reluctance to eat by making pancakes in the shape of cats, just to get his attention.

Greg Ernst's wife, Paula, said Ernst family reunions were incomplete without Pearl's famous sour cream cake. Proudly, she noted that Pearl's granddaughter, Erika, now has revived that tradition, using her grandmother's recipe, of course.

Still in possession of her faculties in her last days, Pearl recited a little prayer for Luanne Ernst three weeks ago, telling her that she taught it to the children in her Sunday school classes at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on National Pike east of Clear Spring.

"She remembered all the words," Luanne Ernst said.

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