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Ernest Lightfoot Kohnke, 87, of Houston, passed away May 16, 2022. Ernie was born February 20, 1935, in New York, New York to Ernst and Hilda Lightfoot Kohnke. He is preceded in death by his parents, and he is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth Mae, daughter Debbie McGalin and her husband John, son Ernie Kohnke and his wife Marjena, grandchildren Kendall McGalin, Ernie Kohnke and Lexi Kohnke.


Ernie grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School and from City College of New York, with a degree in chemistry. In college, Ernie worked a part-time job running elevators at the Empire State Building. He moved to New Jersey to start his career with Exxon as a chemist and retired as a Human Resources manager. In 1973, he transferred to Houston and remained there until retirement, after 35 years of service.


Ernie enjoyed travelling the world with his family, volunteering as a tutor in math at Nottingham Elementary and Stratford High School and helping seniors with tax returns through the AARP. Ernie loved to paint, research his genealogy and was a member of The Houston Racquet Club. Ernie was intelligent, caring, and could make anyone laugh.


In lieu of flowers please consider a charitable donation in Ernie’s honor to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Citizen’s for Animal Protection (CAP), or The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).