The year was 1972. I became a Born Again Christian watching a Billy Graham Crusade on TV. I was a junior in High School and I prayed that God would lead me to some Christian friends. One day during the homeroom announcements a new organization was announced. "Campus Crusade for Christ" I knew that I would join. At that meeting, I met Kris B. Kris invited the members down to the church and that's where we met Ernie Linderman who became one of the dearest friends we ever had.
At that meeting, I met Kris B. Kris invited the members down to the church, and that's where we met Ernie, and the Zion Young Peoples group. Ernie had become a Born Again Christian too at a Billy Graham Crusade. He attended Expo 72 in Texas with the Youth Group, and we all were enthusiastic evangelists.
Ernie loved the music of the Crusades, and he told me his favorite singer was George Beverly Shea his favorite songs were "Just as I am" and "How Great Thou Art".
My husband Paul and I were friends at the ZYPO (Zion Young Peoples Organization)meetings for quite a while, and it was Ernie who suggested "Hey you guys get along so well why don't you date," and we said "we are just friends" he said just go on a date.....3 years later he was the Best Man at our wedding....
Ernie was our advisor and dear confidant in our youth. He always made sure we all had enough to eat at our meetings. He always brought Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca Cola. He earned him two Nicknames. "Mother" and "The Colonel". We all worked with youthful enthusiasm to evangelize for Christ. Ernie always tried to keep in touch with the youth through the years. We had a lot in common. We both were interested in photography, pets, and Disney Movies. Ernie advised me on my first camera a Minolta SRT201. He gave me the strap for it, and I have it to this day. We all grew up and went our various ways. Ernie though was a true friend. He still advised us not as often in person but always in touch by phone. Every holiday he would call with good wishes. He kept on with the youth group as long as he was able and I know was concerned for us all. We socialized as often as we could and enjoyed meals at the Kings Plaza Diner.Never judgemental always listening and compassionate. Which earned him another nickname "Dear Abby".
He loved going to movies especially Disney Movies. We ate out at the Kings Plaza Diner. He was kind to animals and had a variety of pets through the years, and it was he who we could go to for advice and comforting words when they passed over that "Rainbow Bridge". He would say they would be there to greet us when we finally went home.
I know Ernies favorite holiday was Christmas. He loved going down to the church for the tree set up. It was an excellent experience, and he often spoke fondly of the trees and services over the years. He loved the Zion Church and all the people in it and would let us know how everyone was doing.
When I had my first pregnancy Ernie took one look at me and said "You are going to have twins". I said to him no the doctor said the sonogram says there is only one! It was a difficult pregnancy and delivery Ernie was always there with encouraging words. After I gave birth I called him and said "Guess what Ernie!" he said to me "You had twins" I said how did you know? He said..."I just knew" My twins James and Elizabeth both were premies but James was ever so tiny at 2 and a half pounds. He was in the hospital for almost 3 months. Ernie drove my husband to the hospital to visit as my husband had been injured and was unable to drive to see us. Our son is multiply handicapped and has had a number of health issues. Ernie was always supportive and James always enjoyed giving Uncle Ernie a call and he would take the time to listen to James. He was the right choice for his Godfather. He was a blessing to James.
Ernie was there for us whenever we needed him. After my father died he always would call my Mom to see how she was doing. Always vigilant and always said to her if there is anything you need give me a call.
He had an infectious laugh that I recall specifically two occasions. One was in a movie theater and there was something humorous that set him laughing and before we knew it the whole theater was laughing. Another time was my son said to him "Why did the chicken cross the road Uncle Ernie? And he said dontcha know to get to the other side" That started Ernie laughing which started my son laughing which started us ALL laughing for about 20 minutes.
Every phone call from Ernie was cheerful except for one. It was 9/11. He called and all he said was "We all had to walk home, over the Brooklyn Bridge it was awful, everything was covered with dust everyone was white with dust and when I got home I looked in the mirror and I was all white too, so many people are dead." I said are you ok? He said yeah...Okee dokeee I gotta go"Thats all he said and then hung up. He never complained about this..... or anything else.......... or anyone ever. .
If you look up the word genuine in the dictionary it means several things "actual" "true" "sincere" "free from hypocrisy or pretense". That described Ernest .Ernie was there for us. The hymn is "Just as I Am" He accepted us all just as we were, Ernie was a true Christian as he demonstrates his love for God by loving others. because he took the time to listen and care and help those in need, because he freely gave all people he met respect no matter who they were . I am sure there was a crowd of friends and pets to greet him when he went to his heavenly home.We miss him and someday we will meet again. Thank you Ernest for being such a good friend.
© 2019 Edna Straney