Joseph Ernst, 88

Joseph Ernst, 88


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October 14, 2020 ~ 26 Tishri 5781

Joseph Ernst, 88 of Louisville, passed away October 14, 2020.  He was born in Chicago, but moved to Louisville at age 5 and was as Louisville as they came.  He was a graduate of Louisville Male High School and the University of Kentucky and University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.  He served in the U.S. Army as a medic and was stationed at Camp Hanford in Washington state and at Ft. Ord in California.

He and his wife Sonia “Toni” owned Oak Drug Co. at the corner of Preston and Oak in Louisville.  He was dedicated to his customers and the neighborhoods he served.  His children were so thankful to often be at his side at the drugstore from a very young age, and learned so much about understanding, compassion, diversity and having a little fun along the way from growing up with “Preston and Oak” as a second home. He also treasured his relationships with his co-workers and employees.  In particular Steve Ellingsworth, who stood by his side at the drugstore for over 30 years and became an extended family member.

Joe was an active athlete for most of his 88 years.  From a young age he was a skilled and passionate basketball player.  His children have vivid memories of tagging along to his Sunday morning men’s softball leagues at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, and he became a strong tennis player and played regularly well into his 80s.

Though he was a UK graduate, his passion for University of Louisville basketball and football was legendary among his friends and family.  Surely nobody got anymore enjoyment (and sometimes frustration) from U of L sports then he did!

He loved his grandson Gregory and being his Zadie Joe!  It also brought him great joy being Uncle Joe to his many nieces and nephews and later to their children.   We should also mention that he loved his faithful dog and companion Mazel (his second son) as well as his granddogs.

He was a member of AZO Pharmacy organization, Keneseth Israel Men’s Club and was a Kentucky Colonel.

He was preceded in death by his parents Sender and Eva, his sister Evelyn Drootman and his granddaughter Alyssa Rose Welenken.

Joe is survived by his wife Sonia “Toni” Ernst (Goldberg) and his children Rhonda Welenken (Eric) of Prospect KY and his son Michael (Lynette Gillis) of Brentwood TN.

The family would like to acknowledge Dr. Vijay Raghavan of Cancer and Blood Specialists of Louisville who provided stellar and compassionate care for Joe and with whom Joe developed a great and enjoyable rapport.

In memoriam contributions are appreciated to the following:  Keneseth Israel Congregation, The Sonny & Janet Meyer Family Food Pantry at JFCS, James Graham Brown Cancer Center Research or donate blood and platelets to The Red Cross.

Funeral services are private with burial at Keneseth Israel Cemetery.


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