Harold Lee Earnest, 81, enjoyed square dancing and exploring his Norwegian heritage

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 5:33 p.m. CDT; updated 5:53 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 16, 2013

COLUMBIA — Harold Lee Earnest died Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the San Juan Nursing Home in San Juan, Texas. He was 81. 

Mr. Earnest was born on Oct 3, 1931, in Humansville to Marie Hall Earnest and Harley Earnest.

He grew up during the Depression, and his favorite toys were a tin can he used to push with a stick and a tire that he rolled around.

Mr. Earnest graduated from Humansville High School in 1949, where he served as student council president. He was the first in his family to go to college and achieved this by entering the Navy, where he served on the island of Guam as First Class Hospital Corpsman during the Korean War.

After his military service, Mr. Earnest enrolled in the University of Kansas Pharmacy School. However, years later, due to the influence of his children, he became an MU fan.

He met his wife, Deanne Earnest, a fellow pharmacy student, while at the University of Kansas. During their courtship, unbeknownst to him, Mrs. Earnest had given him a deadline. She had gone to her mother and said that if he didn't propose by Christmas, she was going to have to move on because she wanted someone who was serious about a future together. He had a ring and proposed by Thanksgiving. They were married June 12, 1960. They were married 52 years. Mr. Earnest's ring never left his hand.

Mr. Earnest worked as a pharmacist during his professional career, which started in Kansas. He settled in Columbia in 1971, where he and his wife bought the Gem Drug Pharmacy. He was active in the Rotary Club. Mr. Earnest enjoyed spending time on the Katy Trail and at the Lakeside Club with his wife. They enjoyed square dancing together. Mr. Earnest took great interest in his Norwegian heritage and exploring past generations. 

Mr. Earnest and his wife retired in January 1994. They enjoyed many years of traveling, including several extended European trips. After being introduced to the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas, they became winter Texans in the mid '90s, spending time at the Tropic Star RV resort in Pharr, Texas, in the winters and Columbia in the summers. They became full residents of Texas in the mid 2000s. Mr. Earnest enjoyed organizing and running the Star Mart, a small retail store at Tropic Star, and served on many committees and projects at the RV resort.

Mr. Earnest is survived by his wife, Deanne Earnest; his younger brother Leonard "Ernie" Earnest and his wife, Marilyn, of O'Fallon; his sons Kevin Earnest and Brad Earnest and his wife, Kimberly, of Columbia; his daughter Jana Wilson and her husband, Pax, of Springfield; and eight grandchildren, Jacob, Yani, Katie, Natalie, Brenna, Brighton, Rae Ann and Drew. His older brother Randall "Red" Earnest died earlier.

Services will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kan., 66675. 

Tributes may be left at 

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