Richard A. "Dick" Ernst

Ernst, Richard A. “Dick” passed away on September 19, 2016. Born in Cranston, Dick was the son of the late Robert C. and Irma (Ekelund) Ernst and was a lifetime Cranston resident. A 1956 graduate of Cranston High School, Dick distinguished himself as a remarkable athlete, captaining his high school hockey team while earning All State honors and playing at number one on the tennis team, and later, was an outstanding coach in hockey and tennis. Dick graduated from Bridgton Academy in Maine in 1957 where he played both hockey and tennis (undefeated at the No. 1 slot). In 1961 he graduated from Providence College with an A.B. degree. He played varsity hockey and tennis there and upon graduation, received the Mal Brown Award for sportsmanship, courage and honor in intercollegiate sports. Dick taught at North Providence High School from 1962 to 1966 where he was also the hockey and a cross country coach. He later coached the Providence College men’s tennis team from 1970 to 1975. After college Dick played in the New England Amateur and semi-pro hockey leagues until he was 35 years old. From 1967 to 1990 Dick taught English at Cranston H. S. East, and between 1976 and 1990 he coached the tennis team. Both his 1983 and ’84 teams were undefeated, winning the State and New England Championships. In 1985 East tennis was state runner-up and won the Austin Crawford team tournament for 1983, ’84 and ’85. Dick was assistant hockey coach at Cranston East from 1967 to ’73. Those teams were named state champions in 1967, state and New England champs in 1969, and state runners-up in 1970. As head coach, Dick’s Cranston East hockey teams consistently won awards in the Interscholastic League between 1974 and 2002. They were Metropolitan C State Champions three times, and in 1984 were one of the few public schools to face Mount St. Charles in the state finals. For fifty-two years Dick coached hockey in the Interscholastic League (1962-2014)—the longest tenure ever. As head coach at East, Dick’s teams made the play-offs 22 years straight. Dick also has the distinction of having coached championship teams at four different schools and the only coach to win championships in both boys and girls leagues. In 1975 Dick chaired the R. I. Bicentennial committee for hockey and tennis. As hockey chairman, he arranged for Cranston East boys hockey to play a Swedish all-star team in a double-header with the R. I. Reds at the Providence Civic Center. Incidentally, Cranston East was the first high school team to play at the Civic Center. Coaching R. I. College men’s and women’s tennis, Dick’s teams won eight Little East Conference Championships (4 men’s and 4 women’s). Coaching boys tennis at Barrington for 13 years, Dick’s teams won several League championships and were runners up to South Kingstown four times in the state finals. He also won two state junior varsity championships with the North Kingstown girls. His hockey teams registered over 600 wins throughout his career. In 2014 the R. I. Reds Heritage Organization presented Dick with their ‘native-born heritage’ award. Dick coached 115 boys and girls hockey and tennis teams in 54 years (52 hockey and 63 tennis). For 27 years Dick ran the City of Cranston’s summer tennis program at the Cranston Stadium, giving an accounting of the boys’ and girls’ accomplishments and activities in his ‘On the Court’ weekly column in the Cranston Herald. The Roger Williams Park tennis facility was the site of the largest amateur open tennis tourney in New England where for 43 years Dick promoted and ran the R.I. Metropolitan Tennis Championships. He captained the Park team which won the state title four years. Dick was undefeated at No. 1 for eight years straight and won the league title three times. Dick was a New England ranked player for 50 years and a former R. I. Open and R. I. Closed singles champion. On June 5, 2010, in a special ceremony at the Park courts, the championship court was named in Dick’s honor. Dick edited the Rhode Island Tennis Yearbook and the New England Senior Tennis Bulletin, previously published and now found on line at USTA New England awarded Dick the Gardner Chase Award—their highest honor—as well as special recognition for 50 years of service to New England tennis. As a member of the People-to-People Organization, Dick arranged and conducted all star tennis and hockey player tours to Ireland, Sweden and California, receiving recognition from the late President Gerald Ford for this effort. In 1975 Dick was greatly honored to have received the ‘Words Unlimited’ Frank Lanning Award for contributions to Rhode Island sports. Dick was also honored to be included in the City of Cranston Hall of Fame, the Cranston Athletic Hall of Fame, the Bridgton Academy Hall of Fame, the R. I. Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, the R. I. Interscholastic League Hall of Fame, the USTA New England Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Dick is survived by his wife of 51years, Rollice Anne (Jones), sons, Robert C. of Chicago, IL, Gordon M. of Chevy Chase, MD, grandchildren: Alexander K., Evan M., Olivia E., Phoebe A. and Isabella D. Ernst, sister Loralee Flood and her children Greg of Houston, TX, and Erinn Huetteman of Cranston and many friends. He was the father of the late Andrew R. Ernst. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday September 24th at 10:00am in Phillips Memorial Baptist Church 565 Pontiac Avenue Cranston. Visitation will be held on Friday from 3:00-8:00pm in The Butterfield Chapel 500 Pontiac Avenue Cranston. In lieu of flowers donations to the Cranston Public Library would be greatly appreciated.

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ashley atherton - 09/20/2016

My deepest sympathy to Dick's family. Many fond memories of Dick both on and off the ice.

Michael Theriault - 09/21/2016

I'll never forget Dick as a dedicated coach of our championship hockey team who, I'm certain, left a lasting impression on the lives of many young people. My heartfelt sympathy to the family and many friends in your loss.

Jim Norberg - 09/21/2016

My condolences to the Ernest family. Dick was a wonderful person and I will miss his humor and quickk wit at Twin Oaks.

paul zisserson - 09/21/2016

Condolences to Dick's family. Dick was a colleague at East. His professional dedication, successes and personal characteristics made him one of the most admired members of the faculty.
Paul Zisserson
Lake Frederick, Va.

John "Pags" Pagliarulo - 09/21/2016

My condolences to the whole Ernst family. Dick was not only my teacher, and coach he was a friend. His influences have helped me thru life in ways I cannot express.He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

The Tomaselli Family - 09/21/2016

Dear Rollie,
We are saddened by the news of dick's passing, but deeply blessed in sharing so many smiles throughout the years. He has touched so many in so many ways.
He often said, together, you were an amazing team.
On behalf of so many friends at T's,
we will miss that silly smile and the joke of the day!
Tina T

Joan Robley - 09/21/2016

Dear Rollie
Sincere condolences to you and your family. Dick was such fun to work with at CHSE.

esta avedisian - 09/21/2016

Sorry for your loss.

John McCann Jr. - 09/21/2016

I'll never forget skating in the pool or on some frozen pond in Burriville that only Dick knew was already safe enough to skate on.He will be sorely missed.

Ken Branch NPH 62-64 - 09/21/2016

Rest in peace coach. Prayers to you and your family.

Paul Connell - 09/21/2016

A true RI Hockey and Tennis legend that had graced us with his presence, knowledge, commitment, intensity, support, and PASSION! Coach Ernst will forever be remembered for more then what he did on the ice/court. We will all carry a piece of Coach Ernst with us forever. My deepest condolences to the entire Ernst family. Rest in peace, Coach.

Ray Testa - 09/21/2016

Rest In Peace. Condolences to your family & friends. NPHS 1965-1968

Karen & Steve Kavanagh - 09/21/2016

Dear Rollie, Bobby and Gordie, Steve and I offer our condolences on Dick's passing. One of my fondest childhood memories was running in to my cousin one winter evening while ice skating with friends at Aqueduct Field. I was in elementary school and he was in high school. Of course, he had his hockey stick and all his gear on, but his game had ended and he told me to grab onto the end of his hockey stick and hold tight and he skated me all over the ice at high speeds and in circles. What fun, and when it ended, my friends wanted to know who he was.....I replied with pride, "that's my cousin Dick." I still feel the same way. -

Greg and Anne Clesas. - 09/21/2016

We were so incredibly saddened by the news that Dick had passed away. Though neither myself nor Greg had him as a teacher at Cranston East he did coach both of our sons at Cranston East hockey. He was an outstanding role model for my boys and many others. We feel honored that our boys were coached by such a wonderful man. He gave every boy an opportunity to play and he treated them all with respect dignity and kindness. Dick was definitely one-of-a-kind and one in in a million and he will be very missed. I condolences go out to his entire family

Jennie Pagliarulo - 09/21/2016

My condolences to the whole Ernst to family. Coach Ernst was a wonderful man. I am proud to have known him and the whole Ernst family.

Beverlyn Ross (GU) - 09/21/2016

My condolences to the family. God bless.

orlando savastano - 09/21/2016


jackie carosi - 09/21/2016

my deepest condolences to the ernst family. mr. ernst was a great homeroom and study teacher when i was at cranston east. he was always telling jokes. he will be missed.

Kevin McCann - 09/21/2016

My condolences to the Ernst Family, dick will be greatly missed by many people, he always strived to get the best out of everyone, and without a doubt he was the most competitive coach that division 1A ever saw! Not only did you coach me for 3 years and hockey he was also my English teacher as a senior at Cranston East. He always had a smile on his face, W44and was the king of nicknames!! Rest in peace coach! You will be greatly missed!

The Maxwell Family - 09/22/2016

Dear Rollie and Family,
With our deepest sympathy to you all.
God bless,
Dan and Lori Maxwell and Family xo

Terrance Healey M.D. CHSE 1994 hockey team Captai - 09/22/2016

Dearest Ernst Family,
As you know Coach has had an extraordinary influence on my life. Thanks to his family for supporting his dedication to teaching and mentoring the young men and women in RI for the past 50+ years. I could never list all of the things Coach has taught me in 3 short years I was privileged to have earned his trust as a varsity hockey player but the top two are ... Work hard and trust your teammates. Basic lessons which I use when interviewing students today.
Nobody in Cranston sports history will have made a more profound impact on our community than Coach Ernst in my lifetime ...guaranteed. Thank You👍Terry #4

Lee Connaughton - 09/22/2016

Dear Rollie,Bobby & Gordie,
I am so sad to hear of your loss. My prayers and condolences to you.

karen Gustafson Finegan and Joseph Allen(Grasis) - 09/22/2016

our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ernst family.Please accept our condolences.We both remember Mr.Ernst has a good and nice gentle man.he had a good sense of humor.he was always telling me to slow down or I would get a speeding ticket when walking between classes at east.I grew up a few houses from him and remember seeing him and his family always playing tennis in his yard.Joe had him for English in his senior yr.and remembers him as a good and fair teacher.he will be missed and in our hearts forever.May he rest in peace-Karen and Joe class of 77 CHSE

Jane Butler Wallace - 09/22/2016

Dear Ernst Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. So many wonderful memories of CHSE hockey games. Sincerely, Jane Butler Wallace, CHSE Class of 1980

Joe Cavanagh - 09/22/2016

My sincere sympathy to Rollie, Bobby, and Gordie. Dick was a unique and special man completely dedicated to sports and competition. He had a profound influence on the athletic careers of so many athletes, including my own. There will never be another like him. May he rest in peace.

Leah A. Zisserson - 09/22/2016

Sad news for the Cranston East community. I remember Dick for his good cheer and friendly, smiling face. We will miss him.

Tommy Pereira #2 CHSE 93-95 hockey - 09/22/2016

My deepest and most sincere condolences to Rollie,Bobby,Gordie and family. What can I say about the man who did so much for me. Coach Thank you for making all my dreams and so many of other peoples dreams come true!I got to win back to back championships as a player. I got to coach by your side for your last Cranston east season which ended up in a undefeated state title. I Got to coach with you during our back to back La Salle girls titles and also Lincoln Cumberland girls which went to brown in its second year of existence. Even though we won many titles together the most valuable lesson you taught me was to be a champion in life. Too live life with great character, honor, passion, and sacrifice! Never in my life have a seen a man that cares so much for other and gives so much with out every asking for anything in return. I know you will be flying again with Andy doing rodeos on the ponds in heaven tell him we say hi and we all miss him. God bless and I promise you will never be forgotten. Thanks coach you are a true champion! RIP

Buzz West - 09/22/2016

I am deeply saddened by your loss. Dick was one of my best friends. I was his understudy as his assistant tennis coach at Cranston East and have fond memories of playing tennis with him and his sons at your home on many occasions. I remember well those undefeated championships and thank Dick for starting my coaching career. Rollie I miss you and those great times.I am glad we stayed in touch even though I am in Florida my heart is with you and your sons. Gordie and Bobby ....I remember the fun times. Your Dad was my best friend.I stiil have my Champion jacket from the New England Tennis.....

Rick Anderson - 09/23/2016

My sympathy to all of Mr. Ernst family

Class of 1971 C.H.S.E

The Callahan Family - 09/23/2016

Thank you, Coach Dick, for all that you did for the North Kingstown High School girls tennis team. You will be remembered fondly.

Jules Cohen - 09/23/2016


Dick certainly made his mark. Affected a lot of people. An era has ended. Deepest sympathies from Dede and me.

Cap Frank - 09/23/2016

ick, at the old Cranston Stadium courts, taught me to have a decent backhand, but way more importantly he taught me and so many others to enjoy whatever it was we were doing at any moment in time. I can't think of anyone else who launched so many Cranstonians to lives of success as good citizens and good neighbors!

- 09/23/2016

Dick, at the old Cranston Stadium courts, taught me to have a decent backhand, but way more importantly he taught me and so many others to enjoy whatever it was we were doing at any moment in time. I can't think of anyone else who launched so many Cranstonites to lives of success as good citizens and good neighbors! Cap Frank

Kevin Ledversis - 09/24/2016

Ernst family,
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. So much of what I have I attribute to Dick and his many lessons about never giving up , teamwork, and positive thinking. Because I could play a little tennis I got a great education, met my wife of nearly 30 years , and have been very fortunate in life. My kids loved hearing about all the characters on our hockey team and guys we played tennis with. Without a doubt some of the best times of my life were playing hockey and tennis in Cranston RI in the 70's. I havent seen Dick In years to tell him what an impact he had on my life but I find myself thinking about him often . My son challenged me to a match recently and I hadn't played since 1985 but I easily beat him by "controlling his mind" as the Dicker used to say. Rest in peace my old friend

JOE ZITO - 09/24/2016


Paula De Jesus - 09/24/2016

Coach will be sadly missed. Every morning sharing his stories, "jokes". Reading the New York Post and his cup of coffee at Brewed Awakenings Cranston. It was such a pleasure knowing him. Thoughts and Prayers to his family.

mike gambardelli - 09/24/2016

Mrs Ernst Gordi Bob my deepest sympathies, Dicky you were a great friend. The world has lost a good man. I don't know where to start with memories.. Dicky you were the best of the best . Rest in peace.

Dave Poole - 09/24/2016

Very sorry for your loss but find great comfort that Dick was an enthusiastic and tremendously positive influence on so many athletes. His never quit attitude and leadership were life lessons to all of us. God Bless.

Thomas Pilderian staff at the Cozy Grill - 09/26/2016

Our condolences to the Earnst family for a man who did so much for his fellow man will be greatly missed his encouragement and inspiration

Maureen Melone - 09/27/2016

My sincere sympathy to Mr. Earnst's family. He was my high school English teacher at Cranston East. He was a nice man and was always smiling. May he Rest In Peace.

Nick Nofi - 10/05/2016

My sincere condolences to the Ernst family! It was wonderful to be living in the same neighborhood when I was growing up! I really enjoyed having Mr. Ernst as a teacher. Although I wasn't a hockey player, everyone at Cranston East new the standard of excellence that he set. Many of my close friends played for him. Now as a 30 year veteran of coaching basketball at the high school, junior college, and college levels, reading his lifetime coaching accomplishments reminds me of the standards of excellence that he said. He will be an inspiration to me! My sincere condolences to Mrs. Ernst, Bobby, and Gordie!

Howard and Carolyn Peelle - 10/06/2016

Dear Rollie,
We will all miss Dick on the tennis courts of NE and hold you in our thoughts of sympathy and appreciation.

Frank D'Orsi - 08/25/2018

Although I knew of Dick Ernst when I played in Edgewood hockey, I began to know him better on the clay at The Todd Morsilli Tennis Center in Roger Williams Park. I enjoyed teaching the boys at Barrington High School with him for a couple years and his infectious smile and joke telling. Rollie, Gordie & Bobby, remember the good times. He was truly an icon and positive influence on so many people. Rest in Peace, Coach.

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