Ernest Isley, Sr.

Obituary of Ernest L. Isley, Sr.

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Ernest L. Isley, Sr., age 75, passed away to be with his Lord and Savior on March 28, 2022, at his home in Zion, Illinois, after a lengthy illness. Ernest was born to the late Albert and Cleopatra (nee Shepard) lsley on January 26, 1947, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ernest, or Ernie, as he preferred to be called, attended Greensboro Dudley High School. As a Junior and Senior High student, he was picked to be one of the few student bus drivers to assist in ferrying his fellow students from all around the rural county to the high school twice on school days. In his Senior year, Ernie was a part of a 2-man team who participated in a regional auto troubleshooting competition in Raleigh, N.C. for high schoolers. Ernie and his partner came in second overall, an accomplishment that confirmed his dream for his chosen profession. Ernie graduated from Greensboro Dudley High School in 1965 and went on to Jamestown Technical Institute where he studied automotive mechanics, but the military draft was underway. Instead of being forced to join, Ernie chose the United States Air Force. With the knowledge he already obtained in auto mechanics, Ernest was able to take a by-pass test in vehicle maintenance. He passed with flying colors and was immediately assigned as a mechanic for military vehicles. Ernie’s military career took him all over the world, from DaNang, Vietnam (where he loss partial hearing when an ammo dump blew up too close to him),Texas, Miyako-jima, Okinawa, two tours in Germany, New York, Louisiana, Montana, South Korea, South Carolina, and temporary duty stops all over the map too numerous to mention. In 1987, Ernie was introduced to his second wife, Renee, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. They dated before he was sent to Osan Air Base, in South Korea. But the distance was too much for Ernie and he sent for Renee six months into his year long tour, and they were married at Osan Air Base on March 6, 1989, with a honeymoon spent in several points all over South Korea. Before he retired, he was sent to Saudi Arabia with shop mechanics and support personnel to become the Vehicle Maintenance Superintendent in support of Desert Storm. As a Senior Master Sergeant, Ernie oversaw a group of 110 personnel and about 700 military vehicles of all kinds to maintain. For his efforts in Desert Storm, after he retired, the Air Force awarded Ernie the Bronze Star for meritorious service and leadership in a combat zone. All totaled he spent 26 years in the United States Air Force. Ernie served his country with honor, with pride, and with great distinction. When he decided to retire, Ernie decided to come to his wife Renee’s hometown of Zion, so that her children could be around family. Shortly after settling in their new hometown, the Isleys chose to become foster parents. They did mostly short term and respite foster parenting. In 8 years, they fostered over 60 children in need. When the pastor of his church found out Ernie was a mechanic, referrals were sent his way. Soon, an at-home repair business was born. The discipline the military had given Ernie made him believe he could be an entrepreneur in the field of endeavor that he loved. A few years later, his home became too small to contain the business he had developed, and a new place was found for Ernie’s Auto Service. Since 2003, his shop has been a successful establishment in Zion, with Ernie as the “show pony” of the place, always willing to meet a new customer or to welcome back old ones. Ernie has been a mentor to numerous technicians who have been employed at his shop. Ernie also had a sense of duty to give back to community by volunteering to serve on the City of Zion Planning and Zoning Commission. A member since 2004 and Chairman of the Commission these last few years, this was a responsibility that Ernest took seriously. He attended the meetings faithfully up until he took ill. When Ernie was not at the shop, he could be found out on the golf course with his wife and friends, or routing for his favorite Dallas Cowboys. However, he was happiest surrounded by his family, his grandkids, his closest friends, and his favorite Scotty dog, Kelly. Ernie is survived by his beloved wife of 33 years, Renee (nee Harrison) lsley, of Zion; children, Carla (Owen) Brown of Melbourne, FL; Ernest Jr. (Missy) of Orlando, FL; Dustin (Aline) Brown of Jacksonville, FL; Heather (Alex) Salazar of Kenosha, WI; Antonio Isley of Zion, IL; grandchildren, Jasmine Parker, Timothy Parker II, Brianna Parker, Marquis Isley, Julianna Brown, Aiden Salazar, Logan Salazar and Charlize Salazar; great-grandchildren Terrence and Declan lsley and Luke Plante, brother, William (Flex) Isley, of Villa Rica, GA; sister in law Cecil lsley of Greensboro, NC; in laws Alton (Jeannie) Harrison of Mountain Home, AR; sister in law Robyn (John) Fortin of Ocala, FL; as well as many dear cousins, nieces, nephews, other relatives and dear friends. In addition to his parents, he was preceded by in death by his brother, Charles Isley. Visitation will be held at Christ Community Church, 2500 Dowie Memorial Drive, Zion, IL on Friday evening, April 8, 2022, from 4 to 7 pm and again on Saturday morning, April 9, from 9 to 11 am. A service celebrating Ernest’s life will take place starting at 11 am with military honors. A private burial service for the family will take place on Monday, April 11, 2022 at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL. In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated to the Disabled American Veterans at DAV.org
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