Robert Paul Ernst
June 27, 1960- November 9, 2019
Robert Paul Ernst, 59, of Chesapeake Beach passed away suddenly on November 9th, 2019. Robert was born on June 27th, 1960 in Cheverly to George & Lillian (Gaither) Ernst. He grew up in Beltsville attending Beltsville Elementary, Beltsville Junior High, where he first met his wife, Tracey, in band class and graduated from High Point High School in 1978. Robert received his Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in May of 1982 and began his career working for Naval Air Systems Command that same month. He married his high school sweetheart, in July of that same year. Robert served at NavAir for 37 years in a variety of positions and through the transition from its Crystal City headquarters to its current Patuxent Naval Air Station facilities. He worked on the F-14 Class Desk, became the S-3 Chief Engineer, was tapped to head the Joint Council on Aging Aircraft working across multiple military branches and private industry, and most recently was the Senior Chief Engineer for the Navy’s Unmanned Air Systems, developing multiple platforms. He also was asked to serve on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident Review Board. He worked with industry contractors and allied military partners around the globe. It was not uncommon for Robert be receiving calls from lots of places in the world at all different times of the day or night. One afternoon commuting home with his summer interning kids, Allison distinctly remembers being told to be quiet as “Somalia’s on the phone.” Another quiet Sunday afternoon, Tracey woke him up from a nap telling him that the Japanese press was on the home telephone line and wanted a statement from him as to what might have caused the Space Shuttle Columbia to have just disintegrated at reentry. Robert and Tracey attended and served in ministry at Chesapeake Church in Huntingtown since 1985. Robert lead the Edge drama ministry when it began, served as a Deacon, taught all age groups of the Childrens’ ministry, cut firewood for families, refereed Upward Soccer, served on the parking team and Park Production teams and was Tracey’s right hand for any ministry need, building sets & zip lines for MEGA Week and doing set up and take down for events. Serving together as a family was what brought him great joy.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Carol Ann Matters. He is survived by his wife, Tracey Ernst of Chesapeake Beach; his daughter, Allison and her husband Russell Kerr of Huntingtown; his son, Ryan of Port Republic; his brother, Michael and his wife Brenda Ernst of Winchester, VA and several nieces and nephews.
A service celebrating Robert’s life will be held at Chesapeake Church (6201 Solomons Island Rd., Huntingtown, MD) on Sunday, November 17th at 3 PM. The family will receive guests beginning at 2 PM prior to the service and continue sharing memories with guests at a reception after the service.
In lieu of flowers, please support the Chesapeake Church, Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry effort to provide a complete holiday meal for a needy family through the “Giving Thanks” ministry which was a program that was near and dear to Robert’s heart. (chesapeakechurch.org/giving thanks)
Sunday, November 17, 2019