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A. Michael Ernst

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Published in June 2023

Clinton-A. Michael Ernst, 63, passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones at his family lake cottage on Bare Hill Pond in Harvard on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

A lifelong warrior, Coach, and Business Owner, Mike’s hard work and achievements spanned decades on the football field, business world, and most prominently through his courageous 11 year battle with ALS. Mike lived a storied childhood, growing up in Clinton, the son of loving parents Marlene (Freitag) and Anthony “Bud” Ernst, he was blessed with a close family and countless lifelong friendships. With determination for success, he excelled on the football field as a student athlete, and as co-captain of the Clinton High School football team, led the Galloping Gaels to an historic undefeated season in the powerful Midland League. He then set the single season rushing record for Philips Exeter Academy in 1978, and was accepted to Harvard University and recruited to play football for the Crimson. The hardest worker in the room and a proven leader, Mike was respected by his coaches and teammates alike and was chosen as team Captain his freshman year and awarded the prestigious Henry Lamar Award his senior year. Following four standout seasons at fullback, he was invited to remain at Harvard as a member of the coaching staff and was a motivating success and mentor to his younger brother Steve, with whom he played alongside, and fellow Crimson football teammates. At age 23, Mike pursued his career in the Italian American Football Professional League, where he coached for 12 seasons, notably as General Manager of the Roma Gladiators. He and his wife Christiana then embarked on managing her family’s third generation café in Vatican City, during years when they would welcome the birth of their two sons Alfredo and Federico. The Ernst family would later come home and invest in Clinton, where they established, owned, and operated the successful Ristorante Via Alto 27. Following Mike’s diagnosis of ALS in 2013, day-to-day operations of the restaurant transitioned to Clintons Bar and Grille, and a global network of family, friends, and supporters joined the fight against ALS with Team Ernst. The undaunted spirit and courage of Mike Ernst was mirrored by the unwavering support of his wife, sons, and family, and the dedication of his medical team and caregivers. Mike cherished recent years at Bare Hill Pond, and was grateful for the many visits, shared stories and laughter, and the constant surroundings of family and friends.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 35 years, Christiana (Ercoli) Ernst; two sons, Alfredo Ernst and Federico Ernst, of St. Petersburg, FL; sister, Heidi Hoag & husband Mark of Clinton; brother, Steven R. Ernst & wife Jeanine of Tampa, FL; nieces & nephews: Tava and Nina Hoag, Emma, Shelby Quay, Vivian, and Philip Ernst, Leonardo, and Margharita Torcetta; his sister-in-law Luisa Ercoli, brother-in-law Bruno Ercoli; many beloved cousins, extended family and friends.

Calling Hours will be held from 4 until 7PM on Friday, June 23, 2023 in the Philbin-Comeau Funeral Home, 176 Water St., Clinton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11AM on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at St. John the Evangelist Church, 80 Union St., Clinton. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to extend an expression of sympathy are asked to please consider making a donation to Compassionate Care ALS, PO Box 1052 West Falmouth, MA 92540 (

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