Ernie Eerkes was born June 13, 1938 at his parent’s home on Crescent Harbor where they owned and operated Eerkes Springs Resort. He was one of five children of Jessie Beeksma Eerkes and Ernest Eerkes, Sr. Ernie was raised in Oak Harbor and graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 1956 where he excelled in varsity basketball and track. He held the school record in the quarter mile for nearly 10 years.
Ernie joined the Army Reserve in 1958 and later attended Western Washington University, where he received his baccalaureate in education. He continued his education and received a masters degree from Atlanta University. Ernie started his educational career as an elementary teacher but quickly moved into management in the Oak Harbor School District, where he served as director of special programs and personnel administrator until retirement.
He married Cathy Woodruff in Oak Harbor in 1961. Together they raised two accomplished sons, Lynn and Les Eerkes, who always remained a source of great pride and joy. Ernie’s second marriage came joyfully in 1992 when he married Janice Jonasson in Bellingham.
Ernie retired in 1997. Retirement enabled Ernie and Jan to enjoy many travel adventures, including extensive RV-ing and overseas experiences.
Ernie was loved by everyone as an outgoing, kind, caring and fun-loving guy. He had numerous friends, many dating back to his childhood on Whidbey Island. Among these close friends, he was known as the “little trouble maker” or “innocent Ern” since he had a knack for getting them in trouble. He would just put on his great smile and act as though he had nothing to do with their mischief. He loved sports and was an avid fisherman, golfer and runner. He completed two marathons and several triathlons. He loved watching NASCAR, the Seahawks and Huskies. A favorite summer pastime was spending Saturday nights at the Skagit Speedway with his son, Lynn, where he volunteered as gatekeeper in the pits.
In retirement, Ernie and Jan spent their winters in Arizona soaking up the sun and playing golf. There, he served as head usher at the local Christ Community Church. Ernie is survived by his wife Jan; by two sons, Lynn (Lori), Les (Tera); two stepdaughters, Kristen Gibson (John), Trisha Berg (Chris); grandchildren, Rel and Eryl Eerkes, Kaija and Matt Gibson and Austin and Alyssa Berg; a sister, JoAnne Zylstra (Jeff); two brothers, Gary (Janet), Alvin (Maija); two nephews, Daniel Young (Heather) and Rodney Young (Teresa); a niece, Verona Clingingsmith (Russ); and numerous grandnieces and grandnephews. Ernie was preceded in death by a brother, Lynn Eerkes.
Ernie, we know you are in a better place but we all miss you dearly.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, 1511 E Broadway, Mount Vernon, WA 98274, or Fred Hutchinson’s lung cancer research center at engage.fredhutch.org Please designate lung cancer research, in memory of Ernie Eerkes.