Ernie grew up in East Jordan MI with his three brothers Junior Bates, Alvin (Bud) Bates and Dennis Kopkau and his two sisters Wilda Bates Croft and Wanda Kopkau Bolser.
He was married to Janice Hastain in 1959 and to this union were born two children, Steven and Rhonda.
Ernie served four years in the Merchant Marines and a total of 10 years with the United States Air Force. Once discharged, he specialized in aircraft repair as a civilian at Scott Air Force Base, IL.
After retirement he continued working on commercial jets at Mid Coast Aviation making a total of 45 years working on aircraft.
At the age of 32 Ernie was saved, baptized and became a member of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Bolivar, MO.
Ernie passed on June 15, 2016 at his home in Plainfield, IL and was buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
The military service was followed by a prayer memorial officiated by Pastor Steve Holdren of Victory Missionary Baptist Church, Hodgkins, IL.
He was a beloved husband and devoted father and father in law to Janice, Rhonda, Steven and Greg.