Widower hopes for return of beloved angel statue

Cherished memento, a reminder of late wife, vanished from yard

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian staff writer


Updated: December 20, 2012, 9:22 PM

photoAdella Ernesti, above in 2004, loved to garden at her 5311 N.W. Walnut St. home. DeWayne Ernesti, 88, is hoping for the return of his late wife's garden angel statue, which went missing a few weeks ago.

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If you have any information on the missing angel statue, contact Theo Ernesti at 503-577-4588, or start2finish.theo...

— An 88-year-old Vancouver widower is praying for the return of a beloved angel statue — a reminder of his wife — after it vanished from his yard.

DeWayne Ernesti said Adella Ernesti loved collecting angel mementos in a variety of forms. She died in 2009 after years of illness.

The Ernestis were married 59 years. Throughout that time, DeWayne, known to most as Ernie, fondly recalls bringing home angel gifts when returning from tours as a Merchant Marine. By the end of Adella’s life, the devoted Catholic had amassed a collection of nearly 400 angels.

“I tried to pick them up throughout the world when I went to sea,” said DeWayne, an engineer in the Merchant Marines for 31 years.

One particular angel, a 2-foot-tall porcelain statue, had a place in the family’s front yard at 5311 N.W. Walnut St. for nearly three decades.

The ornament was such a fixture of the Northwest neighborhood home that when Theo Ernesti, who lives there with her father, pulled into the driveway a few weeks back, she was immediately aware something was wrong.

“I knew right away it was missing,” Theo said.

Considering collecting angels meant so much to Adella throughout her life, neighbor Pat Miller said the statue has much more of an emotional significance to the Ernesti family than your typical lawn ornament.

“He’s just heartbroken,” Miller said about her good friend DeWayne. “He’s been sick over it.”

So is Theo, who bought the statue as a Mother’s Day present. She said her mom’s fascination with angels was a showing of her strong faith.

It’s because of her father she really wants the ornament found. Just as the angel had spent many years in the garden, so had Adella, who Theo said had quite the green thumb. Theo said her dad would often spend time in the kitchen, gazing out the window with a perfect view of the angel.

“He can look out the window and he can see the angel in the beautiful little space,” Theo said. “It means a lot to him.”

Stover E. Harger III: 360-735-4530; stover.harger@columbian.com; Twitter: col_hoods.