QUINCY -- Third Ward Alderman Tom Ernst has died unexpectedly. Family members confirmed news of his death on social media Saturday afternoon.
A cause of death was not immediately available.
However, Hancock County Sheriff Scott Bentzinger confirmed there was a fatal single-vehicle crash late Friday in the county, but officials are not releasing the name of the person who died in the crash until an autopsy is completed Sunday. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Ernst, 63, was elected to the Quincy City Council in 2017. He previously served on the Quincy Park Board from 2011 to 2017 after a previous stint from 1993 to 2005.
Paul Havermale, a former 3rd Ward aldermen who served with Ernst from 2017-19, said Ernst took great pride in being an alderman and serving the community.
“Like a number of aldermen, Tom would spend quite a bit of time researching, making sure he talked to a number of people and kept an open mind and tried to decide what he thought was best for the ward and the city,” Havermale said. “I think the biggest thing he did that I appreciated was we would always talk about any controversial or deep issue. We didn't always agree, but we certainly talked about it and got different perspectives. I think that was always a good sign and a sign of how seriously he took the job.”
An avid golfer, Ernst recently was hired to be the women's golf coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo.
“We lose a really good alumnus who was going to enjoy coaching our women's golf team. Highly enjoy it,” said C-SC Athletic Director Pat Atwell. “He was very excited about doing that. It was the perfect time in his life for him to jump into that.”
Ernst was on the men's golf team from 1974-78, and he was a member of the 1977 team that won the NAIA District 16 championship, clinching the team's first trip to the NAIA National Tournament.
Atwell said everybody knew Tom through his service in Quincy and as an alumnus.
“There’s a lot going on in our world, but this is one of those things that kind of takes your breath away when it happens,” Atwell said. “It’s hard to hear.”
He also was a longtime basketball official throughout the region.
This story will be updated.