Ernie Doe ’69

This obituary is somewhat different from most, as it is written from the perspective of Ernie’s best friend of 56 years, Doug Crisp ’69. Ernie passed away on  September 15, 2021, after a four-year battle with amyloidosis. He was a resident of Orange County, California, for over 50 years, having spent a number of years with Union Bank and in the hospitality industry.

 Ernie was born on March 20, 1947, the oldest of four sons of Frank and Nellie Doe. He grew up around McLean, Virginia, where he participated in water sports and football from a young age, but weightlifting was to become his passion.

Three days every week for the four years we were in college together, Ernie lifted weights, often alone. To my knowledge, he never missed a day, having some of the highest dedication and discipline I have ever witnessed. He asked me early on to come to the weight room to “spot” for him, and when I asked what was I supposed to do if he became trapped under a 400 pound barbell, he looked at me as a parent would to a small child and told me he wanted me to go get help, of course.

Ernie’s dedication paid off in 1972, when he won the AAU Senior National Powerlifting Championship in the 242 pound class, with lifts that still astound me to this day: 525 lbs. bench press, 630 lbs. squat, and 740 lbs. deadlift, totaling an amazing 1895 lbs. and winning by 80 pounds over the next competitor.

Ernie’s strength and imposing physique belied a gentle soul and a kind heart. Although he had no children of his own, he treated his nieces and nephews and my children, as well, as if they were his own. He was generous of spirit and of worldly goods, both to his family and to institutions he admired. He was also generous of his time, a wonderful listener, and quick with a smile. Regardless of the circumstances, he was always upbeat and optimistic, even during his final months of his illness.

Ernie was completely loyal and trustworthy. He provided sage advice to me as long as we knew each other, and brought joy to everyone he touched. I trusted him like no other, and regret that very, very few people will have the kind of bond we enjoyed for so long.

He was extremely intelligent, having graduated from Davidson College in 1969 with a double major in Economics and Math.  He did his graduate work at UCLA, where he met Gail, his wife of 51 years, in the grad school dorm.  They were married as soon as they could get blood tests.

Ernie had a passion for golf, and in spite of being a superb athlete, remained a solid 19 handicap for most of his playing days. At some point, he may have been over the 14 club limit, as he was a former member of Desert Mountain, Palm Desert CC, Loch Lomond in Scotland, PGA West, Forest Highlands, Seven Canyons, Virginia Country Club, and Santa Ana Country Club in Newport Beach—no trophies, but lots of friends.

Ernie and Gail retired in their early 40’s and spent the next 30 years traveling the world, visiting every continent, diving the great reefs, and playing golf.  He made an annual pilgrimage to the Carolinas to join me and our Kappa Sig buddies for golf and good Scotch.  Ernie remained a great supporter of Davidson, where the weight room is fittingly named after him.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Gail, his three brothers, Frank, Tom, and Randall, his niece, Katie, and his nephews Jimmy, Brian, James, and T.J. (Tom, Jr.)

We all love and miss you, Ol’ Bud.  YGBDC