A Life Lived: Ernie Carden was a hard worker, who enjoyed fishing and camping

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Earnest “Ernie” Carden was known by his family and friends as a hard worker. And, when Ernie wasn’t working he enjoyed doing a little hunting and fishing, camping, and oftentimes, gardening.

Ernie, who died Jan. 11 at the age of 76, grew up in the Siam Community and continued to live there most of his life. He was one of eight children of George and Veona Nave Carden.

Ernie had spent most of his working career at North American Rayon Corp. He worked there for over 30 years, and when the plant closed, went to work at Mapes Piano Strings. Ernie worked another 10 years before he retired.

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“Ernie enjoyed the outdoors. Oftentimes when he came home from work, he would get on his tractor and do some bushhogging or mowing. He liked to garden, especially growing vegetables. One year he tried his hand at growing watermelons and cantaloupes. He was surprised when he won a blue ribbon at the Appalachian Fair for his cantaloupe entry,” said his wife, Etta.

One of Ernie’s favorite ways to spend his off time was at the Wilbur Dam. “He loved to fish at Wilbur Dam, and we camped there, sometimes for as long as three weeks at a time,” Etta shared. The family also enjoyed boating on the lake and water skiing.

Ernie and Etta also enjoyed traveling. “We enjoyed a couple of cruises, and oftentimes we would just get in the car and take off somewhere. Sometimes, we would end up in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Gatlinburg, or somewhere else,” said Etta.

When he wasn’t spending time on the lake, Ernie enjoyed listening to bluegrass music. He often attended bluegrass festivals in Marion and Cherokee, N.C. Among his favorite bluegrass artists were Doyle Lawson and Rhonda Vincent.

Ernie also enjoyed watching sports on television, especially the Tennessee Volunteers. “He was a big Vols fan as well as a Hampton Bulldog fan,” Etta shared.

Ernie graduated from Hampton High School as did most of his brothers and sisters.

Ernie and Etta celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last September. They were the parents of two daughters, Donna Carden and Lisa Ashley, and were grandparents to four.

“Ernie was a fun-loving person, who enjoyed being with friends. He was laid-back and easy-going, just a good old country boy,” said Etta. “He was a good provider, hard working, and loved his family. We were blessed to have him.”

Ernie spent the last weeks of his life at Hermitage Health and Rehab Center. After his death he was laid to rest at the Nave Cemetery in the Siam Community, where he had lived his entire life.

Ernie never laid claim to any kind of fame in his lifetime. He was just a simple man, who enjoyed being a husband and father, but he had a multitude of friends who gathered to say “goodbye” to him. Some were his neighbors, others he had worked with, some were his fishing and camping buddies, but all remembered his kindness and the good times and laughs they enjoyed with the man, they often called “pig.”