It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our dear father and friend Ernest Edward Ingraham. He passed peacefully into a brave new world at the age of 90 on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. He resided in Eureka.
Ernest was born at home in Richmond, Calif. to his proud parents Clarence E. and Laura E. Ingraham on Monday, April 29, 1929.
His father worked as an engineer for the Santa Fe/Topeka & Pacific Railroad. After his parents divorced, his mother relocated to Fresno, Calif., where Ernest grew up. Ernest was a studious child, preferring literature, Latin, historical research and music to sports.
Although growing up during The Depression certainly provided ample opportunity for learning at the “school of hard knocks,” his joy and love of life never waned. He recalled consuming endless onion sandwiches, stewed tomatoes and dreaded brussel sprouts or cabbage. But,he would always say, “Simple food on pretty dishes with good people makes a great meal.” Never afraid of hard work, Ernest would do any and all available odd jobs to help the family with income.
Ernest attended T. Roosevelt High School where he participated in many clubs, including the school newspaper, California Cadet Corps, choir, student government, Latin club, library volunteer and so many others, they simply can’t all be listed.
He graduated from high school in 1948 and joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force. His many travels in the Air Force fed his love of travel and led him to Europe, UK, and finally to Travis Air Force Base where he was honorably discharged. After discharge from duty, Ernest returned to Fresno where he attended Fresno State University, met his beloved wife, Joyce E. Cutter, and earned his bachelor of arts in teaching. Years later, he would attend the University of Connecticut to pursue a master’s of education.
Ernest started his illustrious career in education as a US Fulbright Scholar Educational Award Winner. He moved with his wife and infant daughter to live in the UK for several years while he taught there. While taking every moment they could to travel the UK, Ernest and Joyce also had the honor of being presented to the Queen at the High Tea given for Fulbright Scholars. After returning from England, they moved to Monterey, Calif. where he taught elementary school. There, three more daughters were added to the family.
With his strong beliefs in civil rights and the advancement of education for all, Ernest began his long career as an educator with the Bureau of Indian Affairs after the New Indian Education/Economic Development Act was passed in the early 1960s.
So, driving a white Volkswagen bus, containing a dog, four daughters and his beautiful wife, Ernest moved his family to the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona/New Mexico. In his distinguished career with the BIA and the Navajo Nation he worked to modernize the school system there. He worked as a counselor, principal, et al, finally as the assistant school superintendent.
With the utmost dedication, he also became a liaison between the Tribal Council, Dept. of Education, and Washington D.C and often traveled to those places and worked with other tribes reforming education systems on their reservations. He retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1985.
He chose to retire to Humboldt County, as he fondly had spent many long summer vacations on the North Coast as a child and remembered it as one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Retirement was absolutely NOT for Ernest. He went to work as a social worker for the Humboldt Department of Social Services, focusing on working with the homeless population. He worked specifically on the encampment at the South Jetty, spending hours of dedication to help find those homeless persons resources. After 15-plus years, he retired from DSS.
Again, retirement didn’t sit well with Ernest and he went to work coordinating resources and counseling persons as a case manager for the Serenity Inn/Alcohol Drug Care Services Inc. in Eureka. He worked tirelessly counseling, guiding, advising and finding helpful resources for people, whether meeting them at shelters, on the streets, in his office, in their encampments or in jail. He never stopped helping those in need and held them in great esteem.
Ernest finally stopped “officially” working in 2012, although he continued to do counseling, consultation and referral work. All in all, Mr. Ingraham was in public and human service for over 70 years of his life.
Ernest was many things to many people: a father, a husband, a beloved and loyal friend, teacher, counselor, advocate, a wonderful dancer; he was funny and charismatic, he was a flirt and charmer, a great adventurer, world traveler, an academic with a biting, saucy sense of humor, a chameleon and a storyteller.
His passions included collecting beautiful things, books, ancestry, refinishing furniture, gardening. All who loved him loved him dearly and will never forget his incredible ebullience and vitality, his tenacity, wit, charm, grace, wisdom, and caring. The world is a better place for having had Mr. Ingraham in it and we are all the better for having known him.
Ernest is preceded in death by his amazing wife of 41 years Joyce, his daughter Faith, his brother Louis, his nephew Randy. He is survived by his daughters Scarlett, Hope, Charity, deeply loved family: Amber, Thomas, John, Richard, George, Terry and his treasured nine grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and his dear nephew and niece.
Please join us for a Funeral Mass that will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14 at St. Bernard’s Church, 615 H St., Eureka, California. A celebration of his life will follow immediately after Mass at the church. Internment will be privately held.
In lieu of flowers, a donation would be greatly appreciated to St. Vincent De Paul Free Dining Facility at 35 West Third St., Eureka CA 95501, Alcohol/Drug Care Services, Food for People Food Pantry or to the Betty Chin Day Center.