The Foothills Trail lost one of its most ardent champions March 18 with the death of Ernie Bay at age 86.
No one called him Dr. Ernest Clayton Bay, even though he was a former Cornell University entomology professor. He was “Ernie” to everyone. The first part of his email address was “bugtrail,” reflecting two of his life’s great passions.
Ernie, who died in palliative care following a stroke he suffered at home, was the first president of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition. He was part of a core group of trail visionaries who helped persuade the Pierce County Council to approve the Foothills Trail project.
Ernie was a founding member of the coalition’s Courtesy Patrol, a group of volunteers who rode the trail in daffodil-colored jackets to assist people using the trail and keep an eye out for problems. He wore his yellow jacket almost everywhere to help promote the trail.
Ernie was a member of the coalition’s board since its conception. In recent years he was honored with lifetime achievement awards for his contributions to environmental causes and community service in Puyallup.
“Ernie was one of a kind,” noted coalition President Buzz Grant. “No one was more devoted to making the Foothills Trail a success. We’ll miss him, but the trail will definitely be part of his legacy.”
A celebration of Ernie’s life will be held at 10 a.m. May14 at Almendinger Hall at the WSU Extension Service Center in Puyallup, at the intersection of Fruitland Avenue and East 72nd Avenue.
-Written in memory of Ernie by Dave Seago