The driving force behind Barrie's Christmas Cheer has died.
Ernie Nullmeyer passed away on Saturday, July 27 and is being remembered as a great father, a husband and a leader in the community.
He was 90.
Nullmeyer was an active member in the Barrie community, having been heavily involved with his church, serving as president of the Barrie and District Christmas Cheer for 27 years.
It was with Christmas Cheer where Jeff Walther met Nullmeyer and the longtime volunteer told BarrieToday that Nullmeyer was a terrific man who will be missed for his big heart.
“Ernie was just a terrific person and his want to give to people was so admirable and understandable," Walther said. “Ernie grew up very poor and told us he was at some points in his life on assistance like the people who come through the Christmas Cheer doors.
"That motivated him to push to reach as many people as he could through this program and he really was a driving force behind our beginnings," Walther added.
Born in Toronto in 1928, Ernie was one of 10 children brought up during the Great Depression.
After graduating from Toronto Bible College (now Tyndale), he pastored three Baptist churches: Glendale and Stanley Avenue in Hamilton, and Emmanuel in Barrie.
Eric Nullmeyer, who is Ernie’s youngest son, told BarrieToday that his dad was an amazing father who led by his faith.
“Dad’s first wife passed away in 1976 and he raised my three brothers on his own, which is so admirable,” Eric said. “He met my mom and they had me when he was 51, so it was much later in his life when I came along, yet he managed to be a wonderful father.
"My mom passed away earlier this year and Dad’s health went down after that," he added.
Ernie was recognized for his charitable work with the Rotary Paul Harris Award and was chosen as Citizen of the Year in Barrie in 1995.
“He was proud of those awards, I’m sure, but he never really belonged to a club or service organization, because he was already too busy,” Eric said. “With four kids, and 10 grandchildren, a decorating business and being active as a pastor for so long, he was just a busy man.”
Ernie played hockey and baseball, was an avid golfer and became a downhill skier in his 50s, while also being a passionate Scrabble player.
Ernie also wrote his memoirs, Ernest: Man of Passion and Compassion, in 2004.
His second book, How I Triumphed Over Multiple Traumas, was written in his 88th year.
With such a full life and while the family is grieving, Eric said it was hard to be too sad knowing his dad had done all he could.
“He was looking forward to heading to heaven, and we’re happy that way for him,” he said. “But, of course, we’re sad he is gone and we’ll now remember all the wonderful things he said and did.
"I was thinking of how he was always excited to open a new tube of toothpaste, because he said when he was growing up, they couldn’t afford it. He enjoyed life, and we loved him.”
A celebration of Ernie's life will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 6 beginning at 3 p.m. at Bethel Community Church, located at 128 St. Vincent St.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Barrie & District Community Cheer or Innisfree Hospice in Kitchener.