Ernest W. Van Matre (1939-2016) Ernest W. Van Matre
(1939-2016)

Ernest (Ernie) W. Van Matre, 76, of Ontario Oregon passed away Thursday, March 3, 2016, in a local hospital.


Ernie was born November 7, 1939, in Ontario, Oregon, the son of Elvin and Verna (Skinner) Van Matre. He was raised in Fruitland, Idaho, and was a proud 1957 “Grizzly” graduate from Fruitland High School. He attended College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho. The second semester of his sophomore year he had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program with other small liberal arts colleges. He attended Fisk University for a semester, an all-black college in Nashville, Tennessee. Forty years later, when his wife was attending a conference in Nashville, she visited the Fisk campus and the staff in the alumni office remembered “this guy from Fruitland, Idaho”!


Ernie graduated from University of Washington in business and finance and returned to the Treasure Valley. Beginning in 1962, he was a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual Life. In 2002, Ernie achieved 40 consecutive years of 5 Lives Production per month and took over as leader of the Northwestern Mutual 5 Lives Club. That means from the very first month with Northwestern Mutual Life, Ernie sold five policies per month for 40 years in the Treasure Valley, NOT New York City! And when he retired in 2004, his record had not been broken.


In 1971, Ernie married Julie Pence, and together they raised two wonderful sons, Zach and Nate. He took great pleasure in attending all their sporting activities with Vale schools and summer baseball.


In his spare time, Ernie farmed his eighty acres on Morgan Avenue, along with Julie, Zach, and Nate. Ernie was also active in the Ontario community with Ontario Lions Club, Treasure Valley Community College Foundation Board, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and St Matthew’s Episcopal Church, to name a few. He was a very giving person and funded a scholarship IRA that, when established, will benefit area students at TVCC. Ernie also enjoyed staying at the family cabin in Sumpter, OR and watch the train go by from the deck. He was an avid Boise State Bronco fan and never missed a game whether it be live or broadcasted.


He is survived by his wife Julie and two sons: Zachary of Nyssa, Oregon and Nathan of Sandy, Utah. He is also survived by his sister Janet (Fred) Sower of Golden, Colorado, and two nieces of the Denver area. Ernie was a member of an extended family of Skinners, and was the baby of all the the first cousins.


The memorial service will be held 11:00 AM Friday, March 11, at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 802 SW 5th Street, Ontario, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Next Chapter Food Pantry (our pantry serves 25% of Ontario’s population per month) at PO Box 465, Ontario, Oregon, 97914, or the TVCC Foundation (Ernie was on the Foundation Board for many years and Julie currently serves on the Board) at 650 College Blvd., Ontario,