Ernest L. Sumner passed away at home in Peachtree City, Ga. on February 12, 2014 after battling liver and colon cancer for several months.
He was born on April 27, 1931 in Harlan County, Kentucky, the last of nine children, to Mack and Cora Sumner. The Sumners moved to LaFollette, Tenn. when Ernest was a young boy. Ernest attended LaFollette High School where he and his brother, Hugh, played football together as running backs.
Ernest graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 1954 with a degree in political science. He and his roommate ran a laundry service from their dorm room to pay their college expenses. In December 1954, he married Marjorie Meadows, whose father was Dean of Students at Tennessee Tech. Ernest and Marjorie were stationed in Long Branch, N.J., San Marcus, Texas, and Augusta, Ga., as Ernest rose to the rank of Captain in the United States Army. Their daughter, Melinda, was born at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga.
In 1957, Ernest left the Army and became a security investigator for the Civil Service Commission in Nashville, Tenn. The Sumners’ second child, son Michael, was born there. In 1959, the family moved to Decatur, Ga., where they were charter members of the Decatur Church of Christ. Ernest served several years as a Deacon and Sunday School teacher before the church moved and became the Northlake Church of Christ. While living in Atlanta, Ernest also worked at Centers for Disease Control and Health and Human Services.
Upon his retirement from the federal government, Ernest began his second career, opening Sumner Insurance Agency. He owned and operated an independent agency over twenty years, providing home, casualty, fire and auto insurance services to clients throughout metro Atlanta. He not only enjoyed providing coverage but was active in assisting his policyholders with their claims.
Ernest’s hobbies included travel, snow skiing and golf. He and Marjorie traveled all over the world. Ernest also loved history, focusing on Civil War generals. Ernest especially enjoyed his five grandchildren, cheering for them at sporting events, recitals and scholastic endeavors. He loved reading to the grandchildren and even took time to read to their elementary classes at Peeples Elementary School and Atkinson Elementary School. Ernest loved buying ice cream for the students at lunch. He had a generous, caring spirit and warm, tender heart that sustained him throughout his life. As the baby of nine children and son of a coal miner, he certainly appreciated the underdog and less privileged.
Ernest is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marjorie; daughter, Melinda and Scot Barger of Hilton Head, S.C.; son, Mike and Leah Sumner of Newnan, Ga.; grandchildren, Michael Belote and Mindy Belote of Atlanta, Brady Sumner of Atlanta, Stuart Sumner of Charlottesville, Va., and Thomas Sumner of Athens, Ga.; sister, Edith Tolliver of LaFollette, Tenn.; brother, Hugh Sumner of Dayton, Ohio; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. at Peachtree City Church of Christ, with the funeral service to follow at the Church at 3 p.m.
Carmichael-Hemperley Funeral Home, Peachtree City, is in charge of arrangements. Mr. Sumner will be buried following a graveside service in Cookeville, Tenn.