He was born in Parkersburg, the son of the late Thomas Burl and Elsie Sturm Smith. Ernest, a 1947 graduate of Calhoun County High School, and wife Nila, a 1949 graduate of CCHS, were high school sweethearts. He was a four-year letterman in football, basketball and fast-pitch softball and she was a cheerleader. They attended the Alumni Reunion each year. He retired from C&P Telephone Co., where he was instrumental in the installation of direct distance dialing in West Virginia. He was frequently an usher at Vienna Baptist Church, volunteer fireman for Vienna, and competitive in C&P golf tournaments.
Surviving are one brother, Burl Smith, Jr., of Parkersburg; three daughters, Christine Pfund of Wilmington, N.C., Terry Reale of Charleston and Leland, N.C., and Susan Dulaney of Palm Harbor, Fla.; five grandsons, Chris Dulaney of Morgantown, Brett Dulaney of Palm Harbor, Philip Reale II of Hurricane, and Anthony Reale and Grant Pfund, both of Wilmington; and four great-grandchildren, Mya Dulaney of Morgantown, Brian and Matthew Dulaney of Palm Harbor, and Edison Rose Reale of Hurricane.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Nila Lee Francis, on Jan. 28, 2018 one sister, Mary Francis Smith Johnson; and one brother, Jack Smith.
Graveside service was held at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. Memorial contributions can be made to Calhoun County High School Alumni Association, P.O. Box 11, Grantsville, WV 26147.