Funeral services were held Saturday, July 21, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, in Mountain Home. Burial was at Mountain View Cemetery.
Ernest was born on Nov. 19, 1928, in Mill Creek, Ill., to Charles and Ruth (Lindsey) Watkins. He was one of 14 children.
Ernest graduated in 1946 as valedictorian from Tamms Community High School in Tamms, Ill.
Ernest joined the military in 1947 and met the love of his life, Wanda G. Clements, in Sacramento. They married a week after meeting and shared 51 years together before she died in 2004.
"Ernest was a devoted husband and father," his family said. "He thoroughly loved military life and was a distinguished soldier who received many decorations and commendations during his 24 years in the U.S. Army."
He retired as a master sergeant in 1972.
In 1988, he and his wife relocated to Idaho where they both worked as managers at Republic Storage. They retired from there in 1999 to enjoy their remaining years.
Ernest was stationed in Kunsan, Korea; Fort Lee, Va.; Okinawa, Japan; Sacramento, Calif.; Germany; Denver, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Ft. Bliss, Texas; Ft. Hood, Texas; Republic of Vietnam; Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.; Minnesota; and White Sands, N.M. He was in the Korean Conflict and completed two tours during the Vietnam War.
Ernest is survived by: his daughter, Jean, and her husband, Joe Agbisit, of Moses Lake, Wash.; his daughter, DeAnna, and her husband, Jerry Koch, of Boise; his daughter, Barbara, and her husband, Gus Hodges, of Mountain Home; his daughter, Lorraine, and her husband, Ray Osborne, of Odessa, Texas; his son, James Watkins; his two surviving brothers, Vernon and Jim Watkins of Anna, Ill., and his two surviving sisters, Jewel Hafford of Cairo, Ill., and Faye Adams of Anna, Ill. ; 16 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
His wife, Wanda, and nine siblings, preceded him in death.