Crego, Ernest LaVern – Obituary

Ernest LaVern Crego, 84, died Dec. 16, 2000, at Napa, Calif.

There was a Celebration of Life service for him Friday at St. Helena, Calif.

Mr. Crego was born on Oct. 19, 1916, to Elmer Augustus Crego and Rena Antoinette Hall Crego at Kendall, N.Y. He was the youngest and last surviving of three children.

He grew up at Holley, N.Y., and entered the U.S. Navy at the age of 18. He served his country as chief petty officer in both the Korean War and World War II. He cared for the wounded and helped with the cleanup operation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

He also had the horrific task of being one of many servicemen who helped clean up after the Hindenburg Disaster at Lakehurst, N.J., on May 6, 1937.

He retired from the Navy in 1952. He then became an employee of the federal government working at Naval Electronics Lab at Point Loma, Calif., and also for Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, Calif., where he retired in 1973.

He married LaRee Ivie on June 29, 1939, at Baker City. They later divorced.

He then married Rita Elaine Challoner on Feb. 22, 1947, on Guam while both were serving in the Navy. They had been married for nearly 54 years. They made their homes in Guam, Portsmouth, Va., and in several California locations.

They moved to St. Helena, Calif., in 1992 and lost all of their worldly possessions in the flood of 1995 causing them to move back to Napa, Calif.

His children remember him “not only as our father, but he was our gourmet cook, fishing companion, master gardener and could be heard whistling or singing for blocks. He was also our friend who loved to take weekend trips to Reno, often spending little and bringing back much.”

He was well known for the wonderful meals he cooked. However, he never learned to cook for a few and always thought he was cooking for a Navy unit, and thus, there was always lots of leftovers.

He was a member of NARFE, DAVE and the Fleet Reserve Association. He was a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Napa Valley Barbershop Chorus. He also was an active member of St. John’s Catholic Church of Napa.

His family described him as a kind, loving and gentle husband, father and friend.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters; his son-in-law, John Tone; and his grandson, Johnny Ernest Payne.

Survivors include his children, Carol Charmaigne Tone of Baker City, Diane “DeeDee” Rena Payne and her husband, Ted, of Napa, Janice Marie Notsun and her fiance, Jim Duncan, of Cobb Mountain, Calif., and his son, Stephen Ernest Crego Sr., and his wife, Kathy Johnson Crego; eight grandchildren, John David Tone of Baker City, Catherine Carol Tone Dodgens and her husband, Vincent, of Sumpter, Jessie Earl and Jenny Therese Payne, Eric Steven Notsun, Kimberlie Ann and Stephen Ernest Crego Jr., all of Napa, and Morgan Diane Notsun of Cobb Mountain, Calif; four great-grandchildren, Misti LaRee Tone of Portland, Amelia Suzanne Coleman Tone of Garberville, Calif., Megan Alexandra Rincon of Fairfield, Calif., and Dustin Lee Payne of Napa; and a nephew, Lewis De Frank of Holley, N.Y., who he considered his brother.

Used with permission from: The Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, January 1, 2001
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor

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