Richard DeGay Ernst

Richard DeGay Ernst (BS Civ Egr ’48) died January 17, 2012. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., to DeGay and Esther Ernst on October 12, 1923.

Ernst graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, where he was active in athletics and student affairs. In the fall of 1941, he entered Michigan State University and joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity. From ROTC, he was called to active duty in April of 1943 and served in the Atlantic and Pacific Theatres with the Engineer Corps before honorable discharge as 1st Lt. in 1946.

He then returned to MSU, where he served as a member of the Student Council and the Athletic Council. He received his BS in civil engineering from MSU in 1948, and married Dawn Haugan. He joined the Terryberry Company, manufacturers of emblematic jewelry, retiring as a general partner in June 1992.

Ernst was active in the MSU Alumni Association; he was president of the Oakland Hills County Alumni Club, a member of the executive board of the Alumni Association, and served as the alumni representative on the Atlantic Counsel. He ran for the MSU Board of Trustees in 1968 and 1970 and was a life member of the Presidents Club. He was also past president of the Birmingham Junior Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Rotary Club. For many years, he was one of the best-known starters of track and field meets. He worked the Drake, Texas, and Kansas relays as well as the Big Ten, Big Eight, and 25 NCAA championships.

An avid fisherman who enjoyed many summers on their island in Ontario, Canada, he and his wife took many trips bonefishing to remote destinations around the world. A golfer for many years, he was active at Orchard Lake Country Club, where he was club president. He was a life member of Red Fox Country Club in North Carolina, a life member of the Michigan Seniors, and most recently a member of Grand Harbor. He moved to Vero Beach in 1993, joined the Vero Beach West Rotary, and served as president of the Home Owners’ Association.

He is survived by his daughter, Vicki Biggers, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; son Richard DeGay Ernst of Portland, Oregon; grandsons Bryan Biggers of Boynton Beach, Fla., and Scott Biggers of Princeton, N.J.; brother David Ernst of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and sisters-in-law Nancy Ernst of Tryon, N.C., and Gail Holley of Tequesta, Fla.