Ernest ?Ernie? Schooler Infield, 89, venerated columnist, decorated Marine, writer, campaign strategist, life-long Ohio resident, Lion, Methodist, baseball statistics enthusiast, punster, conservationist, businessman, husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, passed away peacefully, with his daughter at his side, at Smithville-Western Care Center on March 28, 2009.
Born at home on Mother?s Day in Frazeysburg, Ohio, on May 11, 1919, to Fern Schooler Infield and Charles Irwin Infield, Ernie was an only child. He grew up during the Great Depression on multiple Wayne County farms through the age of 9, when he and his parents settled in Fredericksburg, Ohio, for the remainder of his childhood.
After matriculating from Fredericksburg High School in 1937 and graduating with a business degree in 1939 from the (now defunct) Wooster Business College, Ernie became a vice president of sales and administration at International Harvester for several years.
He tracked sports from a very early age, especially baseball, with a passion, recording statistics (a devoted member of Society for American baseball Research – SABR) of baseball legend Bob Feller and other Ohio-based athletes. Ernie is listed on IMDB.com (Internet Movie Data Base – an internet site devoted to movie/TV show/content and records) for being interviewed by ESPN Classic regarding Bevo Francis’ basketball career.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Ernie volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.
After boot camp, Ernie was assigned to work for the late Senator Paul Douglass of Illinois, creating a system of interviewing and testing to improve candidate assignment to 43 military specialty schools at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Ernie?s system cut the rate of failure from 50 % to 5 %; he was then put in charge of assigning all incoming troops from boot camp.
Slated for officer training, Ernie requested a transfer to an active unit; he traveled to Maui, setting up a Transient Center at Pearl Harbor on his way, to join up with the 4th Marine Division. In the South Pacific, the 4th Marine Division undertook the beach landings on Saipan, Tinian, the Marshall Islands and Iwo Jima. Ernie survived the battles to see the flag raised twice on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan. Between campaigns, Ernie formed a regimental baseball league, organized games, bracketed teams, kept statistics and published results and commentary for the Division.
Directly following Iwo Jima, the 4th Marine Division shipped back to Maui to take on new recruits in preparation for the invasion of Japan. The dramatic circumstance of the atomic bomb intervened and Ernie became the Administrator of mustering out the 4th Marine Division; he prepared all the paperwork, arranged transport for everyone back home (or as close as possible) and was officially the last person out of the 4th Marine Division when it deactivated in 1945. He was decorated for his many efforts and served in the reserves during the Korean conflict.
Ernie believed that once a Marine, always a Marine; he sported his trademark flattop haircut throughout the remainder of his life. He also wore a 4th Marine Corps Division pin on every sport coat and suit jacket.
Ernie married Emily Louise Kuhles on Flag Day, June 14, 1947. Together, they operated the Kuhles Fruit Farm for more than 20 years (peaches and black raspberries), practiced conservationism, erected Blue Bird boxes, planted indigenous trees (with the direction and friendship of Ollie Diller) such as Iron Wood, American Chestnut, Butternut and Black Walnut and they volunteered portions of their farmland to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center for ?live? testing of new grain seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
Emily predeceased Ernie in November of 2005. Emily was known for her high school teaching role, leading her debate team to win nationals in her second year of instruction; her support of local theater (directing plays at the elementary level); her love of world-wide outreach; her game of bridge and her career as a real estate agent.
Devoted to sports and kids, Ernie organized countywide adult softball teams and formed the Hot Stove League — a predecessor and similar to what is now known as Little League — for kids. He and Emily led the Wooster United Methodist Youth for several years and was a founding member of the Friendly Fellowship Class, which met for more than 60 years at the United Methodist Church of Wooster.
Directly after World War II, Ernie became the personnel director for the Fredericksburg Art Pottery and joined the United Steel Fabricators as a sales executive the next year. In 1951, he was hired by the Wooster Brush Company as a sales executive, eventually leading the sales and marketing division for 20 years. Ernie then became information director at the College of Wooster (COW). His work and publications at COW garnered him and the college national recognition. In 1985, Ernie named the newly formed North Coast Athletic Conference for Division III Colleges. Though he ?retired? from the College of Wooster in 1987, Ernie stayed directly involved with the sports scene there, assisting the baseball team with spring training every year in Florida and sponsoring the annual Basketball ?Bear? Award.
Recognized for his Wooster Daily Record (Ohio) and syndicated column, ?Ramblin? Round the Infield,? (inspired by his World War II and prior writing experiences), his sports-themed articles and insights evolved over 60 years into greater community/ county/country pieces, observations and chronicles.
Ironically, many people did not believe that Ernie Infield?s name was genuine, thinking it was a nom de plume. After many years of trying to convince those who approached him with the question, ?So, what?s your REAL name?? Ernie, ever the punster, adopted the rejoinder of, ?My name is Bill Diamond.? Invariably, the questioner would leave muttering something about ?winning that bet? or ? I knew it!? A diamond is, of course, another word for an infield.
He also wrote several books, including ?Putting Feet Under Dreams,? the story of distinguished Holmes county businessman and humanitarian Emanuel Mullett, published his newspaper column and scribed a column for the Meadow Mart and other magazines.
In 1964, Ernie developed serious heart complications while on a hunting trip in Nebraska. A young doctor recognized Ernie?s symptoms and sent him to the Cleveland Clinic, which was then experimenting with cardiac catheterization and open-heart surgery to diagnose and treat heart disease. Pioneer cardio-thoracic surgeon Ren? Favaloro told Ernie he was a very good candidate for an experimental surgical technique he was developing, known as coronary bypass surgery; he was given a 10 % chance of survival. The surgery was successful and was followed by a second double-bypass (with a 50% chance of recovery) in 1974 at the Cleveland Clinic.
With a 90% chance of recovery and surviving only on the original bypass, Ernie underwent a third successful open-heart surgery, a quadruple bypass, in 1996. At his death, Ernie was believed to be the longest living mammary artery bypass patient; he was certainly one of the few to have received three very successful open-heart surgeries. He credited the Cleveland Clinic researchers/surgeons and his Marine Corps training for his ability to survive those three, and 30 other various, serious operations.
Ernie was devoted to college, community, church and country. He was a dedicated member of The Wooster Noon Lions Club penning the monthly Lions Pause and recruiting more members than anyone else in the chapter?s history. For his service he earned several honors including: Lion of the Year in 1984, Lion?s Highest award– The Melvin Jones Fellowship Award in 1992, and the 60-year Milestone Monarch award in January, 2009. He steadfastly followed the Izaak Walton League, the Ohio State Patrolman?s Association and the Audubon Society. He – along with Gene Sklorman and Al Van Wie – was instrumental in forming the Downtown Rebounders in 1969, a COW basketball booster club that is celebrating its 40th year. Ernie was elected to the Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
Well-known as the campaign manager for Wooster?s first female mayor, Margaret Demorest, Ernie led 20 other successful campaigns for Republicans.
Ernie?s hobbies (bird hunting, travel, sports memorabilia and photography, to name a few), friends and good works are many.
For his comprehensive service to the public, the Wooster, Ohio community honored Ernie with a special day in his name in1994, only the second county citizen to ever receive that honor.
Ernie is survived by daughter Linda Wakefield, son-in-law Mark Wakefield, and grandsons Jared Steven and Spencer William of Canton, Michigan.
Ernie is also survived by multiple beloved cousins, including Bessie Stewart Infield and Larry Grey Infield of Coshocton, Ohio; Heather Schooler of San Francisco, Calif.; Dean Schooler of Colorado; David Schooler, Kristy and Blake Schooler of the Columbus, Ohio area. Other treasured cousins include Eleanor Kuhles of Florida, Ginny and Everett Tompkins of South Carolina, Martha and Harold McMahon, Grace Tompkins Cox, Gary, Nancy, and Wayne Cox, and their respective families of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Meier cousins, including Barbee and Don, along with their respective families in San Diego and Tennessee.
The immediate and extended family of E. S. Infield invites all of his colleagues and friends to a memorial service celebrating his life near the time of what would have been Ernie?s 90th birthday. The service will be held at the United Methodist Church of Wooster on May 17, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., with full military honors and an ice cream social following. In honor of Ernie?s devotion to the Wooster Noon Lion?s Cub, used eyeglasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses and their cases will be collected at the Memorial Service and Reception.
No funeral or internment will be undertaken as, in keeping with Ernie?s wishes, his body was dedicated to science in order to ?confound the students at The Ohio State Medical School.?
Though Ernie is Ramblin? with us no more, in his memory and in lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Ernie?s name to The United Methodist Church of Wooster, 243 N. Market St., Wooster 44691 or The Heart Innovation Fund, The Cleveland Clinic, P.O. Box 931517, Cleveland 44193-1655.
As a great jokester, Ernie would often call a halt to his own rapid punning by saying, ?What is pun spelled backwards?? Ernie would wrap up the conversation by saying back to himself, ?And that?s a ?nup? of that!?
Wooster United Methodist Church, 243 N. Market St., Wooster, OH 44691 or to The Heart Innovation Fund, The Cleveland Clinic, PO Box 931517, Cleveland, OH 44193-1655
Saturday, May 17, 2009 at 2:30 P.M. at the Wooster United Methodist Church
Following the service