Ernest Dean Baumgardner, 92, died January 4, 2012 of natural causes at home at Water's Edge Retirement Community, surrounded by his family.
He was born in South Central Pennsylvania near Johnstown, where he married his high school sweetheart, Marian "Bunny" Dunmire. During WWII, Ernest served in the Army Air Corp as a flight instructor stationed in Bryan, TX. He received a meritorious achievement medal for his outstanding contribution to the success of the aviation cadet training program, and was honorably discharged in 1946 as a captain in the U.S. Air Force.
Ernest raised his family in Meadville, PA where he was active in church and the local business community. During his career he started and operated numerous successful home improvement businesses. In retirement, Ernest lived for many years in Winter Haven, where he was active in St. John's Methodist Church, singing in the choir and serving on various committees. Most recently, Ernest lived at Waters Edge in Lake Wales.
He had a lifelong interest in flying, logging more than 10,000 hours and training many private pilots. Ernest also enjoyed camping and fishing with his family, and was very proud of his affiliation with the Zem Zem Shrine and various Masonic organizations.
Ernest is survived by his wife of 68 years, Bunny; sister, Mae Smith of Tulsa, OK; daughter, Judy Perry of Lake Wales; sons, Jim (Ruth) of Columbus, OH and Dean (Nancy) of Madison, WI; four grandchildren, Brystal Michalkiewicz, Corrie Bennett Varga, Amahra Perry, and Kaitlin Young, as well as four great-grandchildren.
Memorial service will be held 11:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Wales with Rev. Chad Reynolds officiating.