Ernest Gerhardt Schluter, Jr.

October 5, 1943 - June 26, 2022

Ernest Gerhardt Schluter, Jr., 78, of Beaumont, passed away on Sunday, June 26 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ernest, called “Ernie,” was born on October 5 in Wharton, Texas, the oldest of three boys. He was a little league baseball pitcher and a Boy Scout earning his God and Country and Eagle Scout Awards. As an adult, Ernie was the leader of a Cub Scout troop and was tapped out for Order of the Arrow – Scouting’s National Honor Society. As a high school student, Ernie was in the Wharton High School marching band, and this is where the trajectory of his life changed. He was a coronet player and became enamored with a freshman clarinet player. On their first date to the county fair, Ernie fell in love. He pursued Betty long distance while attending Texas A&M University where he was a coronet player in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. Occasionally, Ernie hitchhiked home from A&M surprising Betty. On one such occasion, Betty was on a date, so Ernie decided to marry her.

Ernie and Betty married in 1964 in Wharton and moved to Houston. Ernie began a career with Firestone that would last 46 years. He worked in various capacities, even becoming an owner of a Texas unit of the business. He was transferred to Beaumont in the late 60s and Firestone and Ernie became synonymous. People in the community were known to say they were taking their cars to Ernie, not taking them to Firestone, because Ernie loved working with customers and cared for people and their cars. He provided rides for customers back to their homes or offices before it was a service. Through his dedication to customer service, he created life-long friendships.

On weekends, Ernie played golf and spent time with family. He and Betty enjoyed playing Bridge, and they loved to dance. They had taken ballroom dance as children and took those skills to the country and western halls of Texas.

Ernie’s other big love was music. He sang bass with the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Choir for 40 years. He rarely missed a rehearsal or a Sunday service. In retirement, he also sang with Volunteer Voices of Beaumont, a local traveling senior citizen choir.

Ernie was as generous as he was gregarious. He shared his resources with his family and friends, benevolently giving financial support and time to people and causes including St. Mark’s Episcopal Church where he cooked chili for their annual chili supper and took tickets for the event for many years. He also enjoyed the Friday chapel service at St. Mark’s Church. Pre-Covid, Ernie attended chapel service at All Saints Episcopal School with his grandchildren. He and Betty were selected as “Grandparents of the Year” at All Saints.

Betty and Ernie spent their retirement years in Florida and Wisconsin. There in the small town of Fish Creek, WI Ernie loved playing golf, Bridge, Cry Canasta, salmon fishing and riding bicycles. Betty and Ernie were active members of Church of the Atonement in Fish Creek, and Ernie formed a group of men for a coffee hour every Thursday. When in Texas, he frequented the Health & Wellness Center where he also had a group of men friends.

Left to cherish his memories are his wife, Betty Mays Strickland Schluter; daughter, Shelly Schluter Vitanza, her husband, Carl Anthony Vitanza and their three children, Joshua Clayton Capps, Elizabeth Nicole Vitanza and Christian Anthony Vitanza; brother, Carl Richard Schluter, his wife, Carolyn Marchant Schluter, their two children, Shelby Marchant Schluter, his wife, Robin Allen Schluter and Shauna Schluter Gerlach, her husband, David Chace Gerlach; Betty’s sister, Jo Ann Slemons and her husband, Steve Vance Slemons; Betty’s brother, Carson Mart Strickland; and many great nieces, nephews, and friends, who were like family.

Ernest is preceded in death by his parents, Ernest Gerhardt Schluter, Sr. and Bertha Krueger Schluter; brother, Marvin Ray Schluter and son, Steven Ray Schluter.

A memorial service for Mr. Schluter will be at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, June 30, 2022, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 680 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont. His cremation arrangements were handled through Broussard’s Crematorium and the interment of his cremated body will be at a later date.

The service will be livestreamed on St. Mark’s Episcopal – Beaumont Facebook page.

Memorial contributions in memory of Ernie can be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 680 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas 77701 or to Church of the Atonement, P.O. Box 241, Fish Creek, Wisconsin, 54212 or to All Saints Episcopal School, 4108 Delaware, Beaumont, Texas, 77706.

The Schluter and Vitanza families greatly appreciate the caregivers – Christy Burnham, Emmanuel Abella, Paolo Querol and Mark Joshua “MJ” Gloria, who cared for Ernie with compassion and gentleness.


Download Program

Memorial Service

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
  • 680, Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas, 77701,
  • June 30, 2022
  • 10:00 am


St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
  • 680, Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas, 77701,

Comments (20)

    Martha D. Schmidt says:

    Betty dear my prayers for your comfort at this difficult time. God bless you.

    Donald Jungkind says:

    Earnest and I were friends and classmates in high school. He was a wonderful person, with good values and character. I liked his humorous and jovial side as well as his serious and responsible side. I am glad he had such a full and productive life.
    Donald Jungkind, Horseshoe Bay Texas

    Barbara (Wittig) Walalen says:

    Betty, please accept condolences from the Class of ’61 for the passing of Ernest. Watching the video was such a joy thinking about those old times in Wharton and band trips and just our class as a whole. I send out the information about our class members and will get his obituary out to those who are remaining in ours. We all wish you and your family the best.

    John and Susan Brauer says:

    We here in Fish Creek Estates will sorely miss Ernest. He was always so friendly and helpful in our neighborhood. His garden was magnificent.

    Mary Pat Jones says:

    That was a beautiful celebration of life at St Mark’s! I was honored to know Ernie! Very humble gentleman! He will be missed by many! My thoughts and prayers are with the family!
    Mary Pat

    Eddie Collins says:

    Prayers for the peace that passeth all understanding for Betty and the family.

    Ernie was such a great guy. Loved my time spent with him.

    Rest In Peace in the hands of the lord my friend.

    Vernon & Jo LeJeune says:

    Betty prayers for you and family. Ernie was a good friend and we remember all the good times we had in Follies with y’all.

    Joedna Smyth says:

    Just thinking of Ernie, Wendell, and Campbell in St. Mark’s choir…

    Until we meet again!

    Chad & Heather Feldman says:

    Ernie will be greatly missed here at Feldman Fitness. Always the life of the hour and his stories were the best! To know and love Ernie was an incredible honor and his contagious spirit will forever live on! Hugs and Prayers to the family!

    Gabriele Pfeiffer says:

    Dear Betty,
    How wonderful it was to talk to you at our bible study last week. I hope you gave Ernie that hug I sent to him. I am so deeply sorry for your loss and ours. We will miss him greatly. I send you and your family my love and prayers. Hurry back to us in Fish Creek, we miss you.

    Paula Bothe says:

    Dearest Shelly – deepest sympathy for the loss of your father. I know he was a wonderful dad because he raised you to be such an outstanding woman. Please know that friends are praying for you and your family to be comforted by his memory.

    Greg Graham says:

    So sorry to hear of Ernie’s passing. I remember him taking me to an Aggie game. I didn’t end up going to A&M, but my younger son Ryan did and it is a wonderful school. Love that you were HS sweethearts as Kim and I were. I also didn’t know he was such a faithful choir singer. I know he will be missed. God bless those he leaves behind.
    Greg Graham

    Lucille M Armintor says:

    Betty, Thinking of you and your family. Ernie was such a lovely man. It was my pleasure to know him and play bridge with him.


    Dale Hallmark says:

    I worked with Ernie for years at both the Calder
    and Gateway store . I missed him when he retired but later did the same. He was a friend both professionally and personally and I’ll miss him.

    Suzanne Wolfrom says:

    My heart aches for Betty, Shelly & Carl and the kiddos. Ernie was one in a million! A generous soul, kind heart and a smile that brightened everyone’s day! The angels are singing as he enters the heavenly gates. What a blessing to call him friend. Just adored him! Sending lots of love and hugs to all of you!

    Jimmie Jay Jackson says:

    Betty and Shelly, I’m so sorry for your loss of Ernie.  You are in my prayers.  Ernie sang with the St. Mark”s Choir at Bruce’s Service.  Before the service he shared a few words of comfort.  They were exactly what I needed to hear.  He never knew how much peace his thoughtfulness  brought to me.  Rest in Peace, Ernie.

    Elaine Henderson says:

    Betty and Shelly, Ernie was such an incredible may. Know that he will be missed. My prayers for the two of you and all your family.

    God Be with you.

    Dawn Cody says:

    Thinking of you Betty. Keeping you and the rest of your family in my thoughts and prayers.

    Rhett Cody says:

    Prayers for the family, what a great guy and so fun to be around, Rest in Peace Ernie.

    Clara Touchet says:

    My love to the family. What a wonderful man!

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