Ernest M. Novey Jr.

DENVER – Delivered by his grandfather and his 12-year-old uncle, Ernest M. Novey Jr. was born to Ernest and Nellie Novey on a family farm in Iron County’s Buck Lake, Mich., Feb. 22, 1933. He died July 26, 2013, after a year-long battle with cancer.

To avoid a life in the mines after graduating from Alpha High School, an 18-year-old Ernest enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1952, working in aircraft/missile control. He served in the U.S., Alaska and Hawaii; Okinawa, Japan; the Philippines; and Thailand. He was the recipient of several commendations and retired in 1976 as a master sergeant.

After meeting in the military, he and his wife, Barbara, married in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on May 28, 1955. They had two sons, Ernest III and Benjamin.

Ernest would later work for Mountain Bell Telephone Co. (now Century Link), retiring in 1993. With a new crop of white hair, he would don a pair of red boot warmers, jacket and fur-trimmed hat – a joke gift from his wife – and forever be known as Santa to all who knew him.

The man who always wore brightly colored socks, Hawaiian shirts and hats adorned with pins from his worldly travels would go on to whisk fans up and down the Club Level, Gate E elevator at Coors Field in Denver for 17 years. A diehard Rockies fan to the end, he was laid to rest with a box of Cracker Jacks.

A harsh critic of green peppers and lifelong photographer, Ernest also played Ms. Bird for Denver’s Channel 6. Family members joke it was one of his hardest assignments because he couldn’t talk with the children excited to meet the Sesame Street-inspired character.

Known by family to be outgoing, humorous, a lover of the ocean and eccentric, Ernest is remembered most as someone whose greatest joy and hobby was “adopting people.”

As far back as those who love him can recall, Ernest was a father of sorts to men at every base the family of four called home; dozens had a place at his Thanksgiving table; he had a kind word for everyone he ever knew.

Ernest was cremated and later buried at Denver’s Ft. Logan National Cemetery Aug. 8.

His mother; father; grandson, Adam; and oldest son, Ernest III, preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Barbara; son, Benjamin; daughter-in-law, Dianne; and their two children, Madeline and Andrea; sister, MaryLee Wallace; sister, Joan Lipske; brother, Paul; daughter-in-law, Rita; and grandson, Zachary.

He is gone from our sight but never from our lives.