Ernest  Dunham

Obituary of Ernest Dunham

Ernest H. Dunham, of The Villages, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 15,2023 at his home in the Villages.

Funeral services will be held at 2pm on May 5 at Hiers-Baxley Funeral home. Arrangements are by Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home.

Ernest, or Ernie as he was known by all, was born in Fords, New Jersey to Helen and Russell Dunham on September 13, 1926. He grew up in Old Westbury, New York with his brothers Russ and Gordon. Ernie attended Manhasset High School in New York. After graduation he attended Hofstra University. During his time at Hofstra, he was a Pitcher on the baseball team, and was scouted by the New York Giants, and invited to try out during their spring training. He injured his arm during practice, so he never got to try out. In his later years, he would learn that his natural baseball talent was not a skill his older children possessed.

A World War II Veteran, Ernie served in the Army Air Corp. He married the love of his life, Peggy Cheviot, in 1951. They were together for almost 70 years, when he lost his beloved Peggy a month before their 70th wedding anniversary.

Ernie was a CPA and joined the FBI as a Special Agent in New York in 1950. After many years of distinguished service with the FBI, in 1963 he left the agency to join American Airlines in New York. He worked as a Director of Field Audits before moving on to be Director of Security for Eastern Airlines in Miami, Florida in 1973.

Ernie retired from Eastern Airlines in the early 1990’s, but his love of investigations led him to open his own private investigation firm, named Ernest Dunham Investigations. He was very proud of his firm and made sure his kids got shirts with the company logo on them! His love of the FBI brought him back to them as a background investigator, and he got tremendous joy out of that work.

Ernie was a humble man, and after 9/11, he turned down multiple requests for TV interviews to offer his expertise regarding airline security. He believed the job was all the reward he needed and he wanted to stay away from the limelight.

Ernie was a great storyteller, and whenever the siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all got together, there were always pleas of “Uncle Ernie tell us a story” from the kids. He truly enjoyed sharing stories with his family and he could weave a tale like no other, merging truth with just a bit of dramatic fiction into each story. His stories were always a highlight of any family gathering.

Ernie was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 1985, for an article that detailed his efforts with Eastern Airlines to curtail drug smuggling between Colombia and the United States.

One of Ernie’s favorites memories, which he reminded his kids often, was of the day he put all 7 of his kids into his tiny 2-seater Austin Healy Sprite convertible – which included driving everyone around the neighborhood!

Ernie and Peggy moved to the Villages in 2004, and that’s when their retirement life really started. One of their favorite activities for years was taking the golf cart down to enjoy happy hour at the local town square. Ernie made sure any of his children that visited got to experience that happy hour also!

Ernie is preceded in death by his lovely wife, Peggy, and their children take great comfort in knowing they are now reunited.

Ernie is survived by his 7 children: Ernest, Gail, Gary, James, Robert, Kathleen and John, and ten grandchildren: Richard, Erica, Christopher, Sarah, Russ, Hannah, Kyle, Ryan, Sean and John Jr.

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Family Gathering

2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Friday, May 5, 2023
Hiers-Baxley Funeral & Cremation - Life Event Center
3975 Wedgewood Lane
The Villages, Florida, United States
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