Last Thursday night, Ernie Templin left the planet.
Who’s Ernie Templin?
Those who were fortunate to know Ernie knew him as one of the kindest, nicest people ever to roam the earth. For those who grew up in Seattle, he might have been the school teacher you remember so fondly. Or, maybe he was the guy that sold you men’s suits at J.C. Penney back in the 1970s, as he worked multiple jobs to support his family. In later years, he was seen around town at almost every Norwegian event or taking his white, fluffy dog, Misha, for a walk around the Ballard area.
I think it’s safe to say that one way or the other, people around here knew Ernie Templin. When I began doing the marketing for my wealth management client, Opus 111 Group in Seattle, I met Donna and Bill Driver–a brother and sister team that were thrilled to find out who my father-in-law was. Why? Because back in the day, they were both his students.
Donna was kind enough to write down some of her memories of Ernie:
Mr. Templin was my sixth grade teacher. All the kids hoped to get into his class. I was slated to be in another class, but my next door neighbor was the PTA president and got me switched to his.
It was a great year. I remember making a weather station that had a ping pong ball anemometer. He had us keep detailed charts and analyze our data. I still love a good spreadsheet.
We divided into groups for math. He took the high group and told us he was preparing us for advance math in junior high school. We were challenged – both boys and girls.
He taught us to follow directions. Once he gave us test that he announced would be timed. It included “poke three holes in the paper” and “yell hurrah when you get to question 7.” What many of us missed was question 1. “read all the questions before you begin.” Because when we got to question 20 it read: “Now that you have read all the questions, just write your name at the top of the sheet and stop.” There were a lot of red-faced hot shot sixth graders.
You learn a lot of interesting words. He taught us the shape of a story: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Denouement, and Resolution. I have been trying to work denouement into conversations ever since. It is such a great word.
We had handwriting practice daily. His penmanship was beautiful and he let us know that we were to take our time and do it well.
Friday was art afternoon. We loved coming in from recess to find out what he had set up while we were outside. Once in awhile he would have some of us stay in and set up – a plum job! I was most fond of water colors. My favorite project was making a color wheel by mixing primary colors. He must have been tired of us one day, because he had us cut thousands of teeny tiny pieces of paper and do mosaics. It took a looooong time.
But the thing I’ve used most in my life is fractions. Every time I double or half a recipe I thank Mr. Templin for teaching me those skills.
Those are just the academic lessons. By example, he taught us to be good people. He didn’t put up with unkind words and encouraged us to see the good in all our classmates. He loved a good joke and enjoyed laughing with us.
When Jon and I joined the Sons of Norway, I was delighted to reconnect with him. I walked in the Syttende Mai parade with him until he was unable to make the trek, and was then honored to serve as his chauffeur in subsequent years.
On my list of important people, he ranks near the top!
Another one of his students, David Horsey, went on to be quite the political cartoonist.
And I’m sure there were others.
To me, Ernie was what happens when you win the Father-in-Law lotto. When I married his daughter, I found myself with a fishing buddy once again. Some of my fondest memories as a kid included going fishing with my dad, but it had been years since I got to go hit a lake on Opening Day. That became our tradition, every last Saturday in April. Most of the past 13 years, we would head up to the family cabin up near Lake McMurray on a Friday night and then wake up in the pre-dawn hours to be among the first hauling in the trout. To be honest, I don’t know if Ernie was as excited about the fishing as he was about the Fishermen’s Breakfast, which volunteers served next to a roaring fire in the lakefront pavilion.
The routine was to charge the trolling motor the night before, wake up early, launch the boat we borrowed from a neighbor and fish from 6-8am, then come in for the breakfast, and then enjoy more fishing afterwards. We never set any records, but we had a great time.
Over the past couple of years, we lost access to the boat and so we were forced to celebrate the tradition from the fishing dock. Not as fun or successful, but we just had to be there on Opening Day, especially for the Fisherman’s Breakfast.
I was trying to figure out a way to get a boat in the off-season, just so I could take him out for one more round of trolling the lake. But after falls on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and once while in recovery, I put the brakes on that idea.
Like I said, Ernie meant a lot of things to a lot of people and it was all good. If you’d like to get to know this amazing man a little better, I’m including a video I produced for his 90th birthday, almost two years ago.
The world can’t afford to lose any nice guys, so we took a serious hit last week.
But he left behind a legacy. He left everyone that knew him with lots of positive memories and and an endless assortment of things to remember about him.
Thanks, Ernie, for everything you gave me. I was never one of your students, but you sure taught me a lot.