Ernest Edward Wall, Jr. August 14, 1937 - July 9, 2021 of Cambridge
After a lengthy battle with pulmonary and cardiac diseases, the remarkably resilient Ernest “Ernie” Wall ultimately succumbed to infection at Mount Auburn Hospital under the attentive care of Dr. Essa and the marvelous ICU staff, surrounded by his family, while watching his beloved Boston Red Sox on TV. In classic Ernie fashion, the lifelong Sox fan’s last words were, “Can you turn the volume up?” His family gladly obliged, ensuring that the last thing Ernie witnessed before closing his eyes was Rafael Devers hitting a home run, as if for Ernie himself.
Affable and easygoing, Ernie charmed people wherever he went. He formed decades-long bonds with Kevin at the golf course and Tony at the gas station. Clients like Karen, Sam, and Camille, whose houses he cleaned, became dear friends with whom he vacationed. It didn’t matter whether you whisked him off in your private plane or invited him to sleep on your couch—if Ernie liked you, he liked you. And virtually everyone liked him.
Ernie loved to talk about his mother’s family, the Balcanoffs, who emigrated from Russia to Worcester, MA. Chuckling, he recalled taking daily tea breaks with his grandmother, which she always promised were coming “soon”...of course, “soon” meant after young Ernie had completed a sufficient amount of yard work. He also loved exploring the hills of Worcester, picking mushrooms with her—she knew which were the “good ones.” His grandfather loved music and instilled that love in him at a young age—he bought Ernie a membership to the Worcester Philharmonic at the age of five.
In his teens, Ernie worked for his grandfather’s window cleaning service and, despite his demanding schedule, he somehow found time to enjoy playing baseball as a member of the DeMolay, helping the team take the championship title two years in a row; singing and (after his voice changed) listening to opera; volunteering behind the scenes at the Worcester Light Opera Company; and drag racing.
After proudly serving in the Army in Korea, Ernie returned to Worcester, where he married Marilyn (Andersen) and opened his own cleaning service, Nu-Kleen Company. The family expanded to include daughters Tracy and Robin, as well as a series of pets. (Many of which were rescued from some imminent danger.) They moved to Cambridge and in 1976, sadly, Marilyn passed away, leaving Ernie a widower with two young daughters. Shortly after, he met June Exum, who not only helped take care of his daughters, but formed a close friendship with Ernie that lasted for the rest of his life.
His daughters excelled—Tracy now works at Harvard Divinity School and is actively involved in local theater and Robin is a Senior Physician Assistant at Yale-New Haven Hospital—and Ernie couldn’t have been prouder of them. As grandfather to Gehlen, Kaitlen, Raj, and Brie, Ernie positively shone (and would have done anything for them), and his grandchildren likewise adored him.
Aside from spending time with his friends, family, and pets, Ernie enjoyed photography; watching the Red Sox, the Bruins, and the Patriots, generally from the comfort of his favorite recliner; cooking with delicious results (family regularly referred to him as “Chef Ern”); listening to and attending performances of opera, classical music, plays, and musical theater; and swapping stories with the extended Balcanoff clan at their annual family reunion. Until his health began to decline, he was an avid golfer and gardener. Although he despised the logistics of air travel, he loved exploring once he’d reached his destination. He was beyond excited to accompany his cousin Karen and her family to Russia to meet far-flung relations. He always enjoyed road trips, including an annual pilgrimage to Vermont with June to watch the foliage turn.
In this final year of Ernie’s life, he was fortunate to be surrounded by loved ones, and they were equally lucky to spend time with him. With her background in medicine, Robin was integrally involved in his healthcare, while Tracy made dinner for him every day, cooking meals that were flavorful but within his dietary restrictions—which was no small feat, considering how much Ernie loved salt! All of his grandchildren visited. His dear friend June cared for him daily, in spite of her own health issues, and his furry daughter, Daisy the overprotective poodle, guarded him from all threats, real or (mostly) imagined.
A good man but not a religious one, Ernie wouldn’t have wanted a service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Worcester County Light Opera Company (https://www.wcloc.org/donate) or the Veterans Inc. (https://www.veteransinc.org/).