William Robert Ernst, retired president of a commercial painting business, died Tuesday of complications from Parkinson's disease at Stella Maris Hospice. The former Lutherville resident was 80.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Key Avenue, he dropped out of Forest Park High School at 17 and lied about his age to join the Navy.
After serving aboard a submarine chaser in the Pacific during World War II, he became a painter with Kuehnle Wilson of Maryland Inc. He worked his way up from apprentice to company president.
He retired about 20 years ago after completing painting assignments at Memorial Stadium and Carling Brewery, the Lyric Opera House, Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor hotel and Washington's National Cathedral.
In retirement, he built and repaired radio-controlled model airplanes and was a member of the Sunday Flyers in Middle River.
No service is planned.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Elizabeth McVay Austin; two sons, John W. Ernst of Freeland and Robert M. Ernst of Fort Collins, Colo.; two daughters, Barbara A. Newton of Parkville and Emily A. Wills of York, Pa.; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandson.