Darwin Richard Ernst
  • 81 years old
  • Date of birth:  May 12th, 1935
  • Place of birth:
    North Dakota, United States
  • Date of passing:  May 23rd, 2016
  • Place of passing:
    Clayton, California, United States

He loved Mel Torme, golf, barbecue and the San Francisco Giants, but not nearly as much as Darwin Richard Ernst loved his wife, children and grandchildren. And it was anything and everything about his grandchildren that promptly brought out his broad dimpled grin. Darwin’s smile, humor, and gentleness will be greatly missed. He died peacefully in his sleep at home on May 23. He was 81.

Born in North Dakota on May 12, 1935, Darwin spent most of his life in California, 45 of those years in Campbell, Calif. He met his wife-to-be, Donna (Slaton) in their high school orchestra and would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on June 17. The love they shared was ever-lasting and evident whenever they looked at one another or held hands as they walked.

He was in the Army for three years and played saxophone, flute and clarinet while stationed in Germany with the 7th Army Symphony Orchestra. Later he taught music and English for 35 years for the San Jose Unified School District, most of that time at Hoover Middle School. He retired in 1995 and enjoyed watching granddaughter, Katie Marchant, in gymnastics and tennis, and grandson, Sam Marchant, play soccer and baseball. Darwin and Donna took many vacations together traveling to such places as Italy, Canada, Chicago, and a trip up the Mississippi, as well as numerous trips throughout California.

He and Donna moved to Clayton, Calif. about seven years ago living less than two miles from their daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Brad Marchant, and their children Katie and Sam.

He is survived by his bride, Donna, daughter Beth (Brad), son Mike (Anne) Ernst, and grandchildren Katie Marchant and Sam Marchant.

The family will host an informal celebration of life, where we hope to hear and share stories of Darwin, at one of his favorite barbecue restaurants, Sams BBQ at 1110 Bascom Ave. in San Jose, from 3 p.m. to about 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3.

In lieu of flowers please send donations in Darwin’s honor to the music program at Hoover where the money will be used to buy instruments for students or the American Lung Association. To donate to the music program send checks to Hoover Performing Arts Boosters (Tax ID: 80-0239571), 1635 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95126.

Memorial Tributes
Candle lit by  Debbie Brown  on June 12th, 2016

Our entire family was so sorry to hear about the passing of a man who helped the Smith family create so many wonderful memories. I remember his smile and how genuine he was. We had some great times together and I know that he will be missed by everyone who ever met him.
With love,
Debbie Brown (Smith)

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This memorial is administered by:

Anne Ernst

Created in partnership with

San Jose Mercury News



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