‘Local legend’ Ernie Smith passes away age 87

‘Local legend’ Ernie Smith passes away age 87

Local legend Ernie Smith, known by the community for his heart for people and his passion for long-distance running, passed away on Monday October 18 aged 87.

Ernie was a cleaner at Park Ridge State School who invested his own time into training students in long-distance running.

One of Ernie’s closest friends Jim Capes, who first met Ernie on a long-distance run in the early 1980’s said Ernie was a great friend who was loved and respected who would be missed by all.

“Whoever knew him was lucky to know him,” Mr Capes said.

“[Ernie was] a person who could converse on most subjects. A person who would listen, a person who would praise your achievements, big or small,” he said.

Mr Capes said Ernie was a great runner who participated in countless fun runs, marathons, and triathlons and trained many young athletes over the years.

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Former Park Ridge State School student Leanne Head was trained by Ernie in the 1980s, and her son Jesse was trained by him in the 2000s.

Mrs Head said Ernie sacrificed his own time to train her and other students before school for various upcoming competitions.

“Any time we had cross country or were representing the school, he would of his own time come before school and train us,” she said.

“He was a really genuine, authentic and generous man.

“He really wanted to give others the chance to succeed in life.”

Ernie was no longer running himself by the time Jesse became a competitive runner but would ride his bike to his house and take him to the running track to train.

“I remember waking up just about every morning before school for a year or so and running all over Park Ridge with him,” said Jesse Head.

“Rain, hail, or shine he’d be there ready to go – Mr Smith on his bike and me alongside him trying to keep up, all the while coaching me and telling me stories. 

“He knew Park Ridge back to front.”

Park Ridge News editor Paul Jackson was also trained by Ernie in the early 1980s as a Park Ridge State School student.

“Ernie Smith was a local legend … he trained generations of distance runners at PRSS,” Mr Jackson said.

“He was a cleaner at PRSS for decades, but was most known for his love of long-distance running.”

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Park Ridge State School admin officer Maria Addison said Ernie, who also lived in the same street as her, was the school cleaner in the 1990s when her daughter attended the school. 

“We often saw him running and he’d always stop and say hello if he saw us – that’s just the friendly sort of bloke he was,” she said.

“He was just a really nice, friendly kind of person who would do anything for anybody if they needed any help.”

Parklands Christian Centre pastor Mike Warman said he had fond memories of Ernie helping him train for zone and district competitions for shot put.

“Ernie helped me all the time with that at zone district – he was a good man,” he said.

Share how Ernie impacted your life in the Logan West Facebook Group.