Ernest Edward Waggoner of Oakdale was born Dec 1, 1924 in Urbana, Illinois. Born the eldest son of Morris Edward Waggoner and Helen Orpha Ernest, he was brother to Donald and James. He died peacefully Dec 21, 2015 at the age of 91, having been active and independent until November.
Ernie graduated from high school in Kewanee, Illinois in 1942 and was an Eagle Scout. World War II interrupted his college education for a time. He joined the U.S. Navy, and was stationed on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Ernie met the love of his life, Charlotte Ruth Burchell, while she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, and active in the Wesley Foundation serving Sunday dinners to visiting service men. Charlotte and Ernie were married February 22, 1948 in Modesto, California shortly after he finished his degree in chemical engineering at University of Illinois. Ernie worked as a chemical engineer for Shell Oil, from 1948-1953, in Pittsburg, CA. In 1953, his father-in-law, Irvin Burchell, asked him to join the Burchell Nursery as Propagation Manager of orchard trees, where he spent the next 26 years of his career. In 1963, he moved his family to Oakdale and was supervisor of the Burchell Nursery growing grounds in Oakdale. Ernie was innovative in his mechanical ability and modified nursery equipment to increase efficiency. He also developed his own walnut and almond orchards, walnut dehydrator plant, and partnered with Charlotte in her management of the Waggoner Christmas Tree Farm. In 1979, he turned to farming his own walnuts and almonds full-time until 1996. Even in retirement, Ernie continued to help with farming, including harvest this fall. He amused his family with his continued zest for operating the sweeper and bulldozer at 90 years old! College electives of beekeeping and woodworking became life-long hobbies. He was a beekeeper for 67 years. Ernie was an accomplished woodworker and built furniture, cabinets, cedar chests and music boxes for family and friends. He loved restoring horse-drawn wagons. In the 1960s, he restored a 1930 Model A and built 2 canoes with his sons. He was an assistant Boy Scout leader for Troop #43 and a coach with Sylvan Little League. Ernie enjoyed many west coast vacations with Charlotte, his family, friends, and boat. Salmon fishing and abalone diving on the Mendocino coast, and horse back-packing were activities he loved. Vacations included trips to Canada, Alaska and New Zealand. He also enjoyed singing with barbershop and church groups.
Ernie is survived by his spouse of 67 years, Charlotte Waggoner, his brother James Waggoner (Mary), children Gerald (Jerry) Waggoner (Elaine Wedegaertner), Stanley Waggoner (Carolyn), Janet Waggoner Johnson (Clark), Ellen Waggoner Kunz (Michael); nine grandchildren: Kevin Waggoner (Jess), Scotty, Matthew, and Brittlynn Waggoner, Krista Torseth (Erik), Brianne Pham (An), Tricia Johnson, Richard Kunz (Vanessa), Katie Benitez (Orlando); four great grandchildren, many special nieces and nephews, and in-laws Bill and Edith Burchell and Maryly Reinertson. Ernie was predeceased by his brother Don Waggoner. Ernie loved and enjoyed his grandkids and extended family. He was a good man, a kind soul, and a loyal friend. Ernie will be greatly missed.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2016, 11 a.m. at Community United Methodist Church, 1480 Poplar Street, Oakdale, CA. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the Oakdale Community United Methodist Church or a charity of your choice.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Jan. 13, 2016