Ernesta Adella Branker-Forde was born on March 8, 1931, to John Edwin and Iris Alexandra Branker in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies. Growing up in Barbados, “Ernie” attended St. Michael’s Girls School, and maintained a life-long affiliation with the school as a member of the St. Michael’s Girls Alumni Association.
In 1969, Ernie immigrated to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York, where she worked at Interfaith Medical Center (formerly the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn) for over 27 years until her retirement in 1997 as an assistant accounting supervisor.
Shortly after arriving in New York, Ernie joined St. George’s Episcopal Church, where she worshiped for almost 50 years and served tirelessly on the church Altar Guild and as a lead usher in Ushers/Greeters and Hospitality. As a member of numerous church committees, Ernie was instrumental in raising funds for the church organ and the very first church bus. She routinely demonstrated her devotion to St. George’s through her generous and giving spirit.
It was also at St. George’s where Ernie met the love of her life, Everton Forde, whom she married in 1998 at 65 years old. Everton and Ernie enjoyed traveling the world together and dancing in ballrooms wherever they roamed.
Although Ernie never had children of her own, she was a mother to many and “Aunt Ernie” to all. To her nieces and nephews, she was a matriarch and a source of wonder close to magical, opening new worlds. Ernie organized countless adventures from cruises to bus rides to theater trips. She famously loved shopping. Her flea-market forays on Saturdays were legendary – so was her passion for fashion, particularly for watches, shoes and hats. Her greatest joy was finding deals for others. She was generous and selfless with a servant’s heart.
Ernie lived life with an open heart, embracing everyone she met. Though she had much, she gave even more. Ernie never forgot a birthday, was always there for family and friends, and consistently provided love, support and encouragement to those in need. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of love and fond memories that will endure through time. Her testimony was that of an amazing life well-lived.
On May 23, 2018, God called Ernie home. She is survived by her husband, Everton, her adopted daughter, Marva, her sister, Norma, her nieces and nephew, Michelle, Jacqueline, Karen, Nicole and Ian, her great-nieces and great-nephews, Lauren, Serena, Erica, Emily, Christopher, Jason and Robbie, and many beloved family and friends.