Ernest “Ernie” Louis Spadafore
June 19, 1926—May 1, 2019
Ernie was born on June 19, 1926 in Portland Oregon to Agnes and Carl Spadafore. He was the third of 5 siblings. From an early age he was interested in sports. He learned to box, played baseball, football, and basketball and lettered in all three at Commerce (now Cleveland) High School. WWII called him to service, so at 17, he joined the army and after 6 weeks of basic training he was sent to Europe to fight in The Battle of the Bulge. He was severely wounded by shrapnel and was left for dead until troops combing the battlefield found him 18 hours later. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for heroism. Ernie was a fighter. He spent over a year in hospitals in Germany, England, and the U.S. recovering from his wounds. He overcame many challenges to return to civilian life in 1946.
He attended college on the G.I. bill and studied accounting at U of O. He met his future wife, Junellen “June” Norin on a blind date. June recalled,” It was love at first sight.” They married in 1951. Meanwhile, he took an accounting job at The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife where he worked until his retirement.
Ernie was devoted to his mother, Agnes and youngest brother, Eugene. He was always there to take her to breakfast, provide transportation, and support her through trying times. Eugene, who was born deaf, mute, and mentally challenged saw Ernie as his shining star. He lived with Ernie and June off and on for a number of years and in between at his Fairview facility. Uncle Gene displayed some beautiful kid-like qualities and was a favorite person for some of us younger ones.
Always, Ernie was there for his sisters. He made the rounds weekly, joining them for coffee and sweets. (Maple bars were his favorite.) When two of their husbands died, Ernie showed up to help them with funeral arrangements, financials, and moral support.
Throughout his life, Ernie, made a multitude of diverse friendships. He loved poker and black jack and played regularly with a close knit group of friends. Sometimes you could find him at the black jack tables in Reno and Las Vegas with June by his side. His friends say he was a lucky guy, because he won so often! He and his best friend, Jerry, were regulars at Multnomah Greyhound Park for more than 40 years. He was a winner there too! Ernie’s last hurrah came 5 days before his death when his hospice team arranged a trip to Ilani Casino. He was thrilled!
Ernie frequented The Village Inn, Shari’s, and especially The Original Hotcake House. The staff greeted him by name. They were his restaurant family.
When it came to sports, he was a diehard enthusiast. He followed boxing, basketball, football, and baseball. The New York Yankees and Green Bay Packers were his favorites.
At age 51, his wife June survived a ruptured brain aneurysm which necessitated her move
to a nursing facility. For 28 years, Ernie visited daily to help care for her until her death
in 2007. They renewed their wedding vows in 1999 at Gresham’s Village Health Care
amid a gathering of family, friends, and staff. There was even a write-up about their
relationship in the Oregonian.
Ernie was a quiet man who kept many of his thoughts and feelings to himself. There were so many facets to his character and he shared different parts of himself with each of us. His kind and generous spirit touched so many of us and will live in our memories.
Ernie was predeceased by his wife, his mother and father, sisters, Irene, Mary, Rose, his brother, Eugene, and best friend, Jerry Liebertz. He is survived by several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, his longtime friend Nancy Carroll and many, many friends.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Russellville Park, especially Ernie’s caregivers and Ivan; the Kaiser Hospice Team, especially Jules, Geri and Amanda; Robin, his home health nurse; Senior Helpers, especially Norm and Julia, and Dr. Baenline who supported and cared for our wonderful uncle.
Friday, June 7 @2pm there will be a military honor ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery 11800 SE Mt Scott Blvd, Happy Valley, OR 97086. There will be no funeral at his request. A private family/friends gathering will be held on June 9. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. for more details. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Wounded Warrior Project. https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org
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