Ernie served in the U.S. Army, posted to Austria as a first lieutenant in the 510th Field Artillery Battalion. Returning to the United States, Ernie embarked on a doctoral program in zoology at UCLA and wrote his thesis on hermit crabs, carrying two of them with him around the world. His interest in hermit crabs led to an invitation from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to visit Eniwetok Atoll Marine Biological Laboratory in the Marshall Islands to study coconut crabs and the possible storage of radioactive particles in what was a major food source for the Marshall Islanders.
This, in turn, led to an offer to teach an introductory zoology course and begin a 40-year career at the University of Hawaii. Settling in Kaneohe Bay with his new wife, Ilze, Ernie became deeply involved in environmental issues and the need to protect the Hawaiian coast from shortsighted developers. On the world stage, Ernie worked to organize international conferences and to promote the importance of a healthy marine ecology to world organizations and governments from the Pacific to Europe and the Middle East. He was awarded several professional honors and filled leadership positions in the scientific community.
Ernie died Feb. 21, 2022, in Kaneohe, Hawaii. He is survived by his wife, Ilze; two children; and seven grandchildren.