Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Ernie Baldini

December 28, 1929 - September 21, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, October 1, 2020
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
St Jude Catholic Church

Masks and proper distancing will be required.


Thursday, October 1, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
St Jude Catholic Church
1120 4 Mile Road NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

St Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105

To donate by mail, go to the website and download the mailing form to accompany your donation.

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Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
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Life Story / Obituary


All who knew Ernest “Ernie” Baldini would agree that he truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He never backed down from a challenge, and he thoroughly enjoyed all of the blessings, whether great or small, that life had to offer. Ernie was a loving and generous man who touched the hearts of everyone around him even in the simplest of ways. He treasured his family above all else, and he liked to surround himself with his loved ones at every opportunity. Dearly loved, Ernie will be forever missed.

The year 1929 is often remembered as a year of great trial with the historic crash of the Stock Market in October, but this was a time to remember for a much different reason in the lives of Paul and Angeline (Braccio) Baldini as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Ernest on December 28, 1929, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Growing up, Ernie was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised in the family home on the Southeast side of Grand Rapids alongside his three older sisters, Elvira, Saraphine, and Joanne. Ernie and his family attended Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, and Italian was often spoken in the house as both of his parents had immigrated to the United States from Italy. Deeply rooted in their heritage, the Baldini home was often a gathering spot for the local Italian community. Ernie loved playing hockey in his free time, even losing some teeth to the sport throughout his childhood. He attended local schools including Catholic Central High School. Ernie always enjoyed cars and trucks, and his passion led him to his first job at a gas station. Once he graduated from Catholic Central, he began working for the Waterworks in Grand Rapids.

It was during his time in high school that Ernie met the love of his life. Her name was Sarah “Sally” Gavinski, and as the story goes he joined the band in order to spend more time with her. Since Ernie was one of the few band members with a car, he was the one to play the tuba since he had the car to lug it around. He admitted that all he could play was Three Blind Mice. It has been said that he would sometimes call to Sally through the instrument as she was one of the Drum Majorettes. Over the next few years their love blossomed, and Ernie and Sally were happily married on October 7, 1950, at St. Jude Parish. The newlyweds enjoyed driving around Lake Michigan and through Wisconsin for their honeymoon, and later settled down in the Northview area of Grand Rapids. This was the area where they would spend most of their married life. Ernie and his wife welcomed four beloved children; Michael, Laurie, Ric, and Jayme into their hearts.

Ernie continued to work at the Waterworks for several more years to support his family as he strengthened the foundation of his work ethic in the process. However, he soon began an apprenticeship with the Plumbers and Fitters Union as he believed in the benefits and opportunities a Union brings. Ernie built his career over the years and spent 31 years in the Union. He especially enjoyed working at the Power Plants in Michigan. He was also very skilled with his hands and a natural tradesman. In 1975, Ernie was elected as the Business Agent/Manager for the union, where he continued to serve until his retirement. While this often called him away from home for various meetings, it also gave him the opportunity to travel with Sally for conferences.

Family was Ernie’s greatest treasure in life, and his children became his pride and joy. He always encouraged them to follow their dreams and work hard to achieve them. Ernie could fix or build almost anything, and he passed his skills and knowledge down to his sons. Each night, he and his family would enjoy dinner together and share stories about their day. Ernie considered this time essential to grow deep as a family. He raised his children to share responsibilities, meaning chores for each of them. In 1967, Ernie and Sally traveled to Tennessee to purchase a houseboat, and the family would go on to spend much of every summer on the Muskegon River. He was thrilled to become a grandfather and even a great-grandfather later in life, and his home was always a favorite gathering place.

Over the years, Ernie fell in love with several hobbies. He and Sally liked to square dance with a group from their church, and they also enjoyed theatre at their church. After retirement, he and Sally spent the winter months in Orange Beach, Alabama. Ernie stayed active by playing golf, tennis, and racquetball, even beating many into his 70s. Ernie was always a very social person, and he created many lifelong friendships with those he’d worked with, and those they met in Alabama. He took up stained glass art work and helped Sally with her art students cutting mat board for their paintings. Ernie has made many stained glass pieces that his family enjoys, and his home is filled with his work on lampshades, windows, and pictures. Many times Sally would design the piece and Ernie would produce it.

Loss tainted Ernie’s life this past March when his beloved wife passed away. He had just moved into Porter Hills Community to be closer to her, and he remained living there as the facility went on lockdown for the pandemic. Ernie never stopped loving or making the best of his situations, and his patience and acceptance served him well throughout his entire life.

As his family and friends can attest, Ernest “Ernie” Baldini had an insatiable zest for life that was contagious to anyone around him. He was an honorable man who had a great sense of humor, and he spent his life serving others without hesitation. Ernie leaves behind a legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

BALDINI – Ernest “Ernie” Baldini age 90, of Grand Rapids, passed away peacefully on September 21, 2020 joining his loving wife, Sally, in heaven. Ernie will be remembered as a loving husband and caring father/grandfather/great-grandfather who was dedicated to his family. He enjoyed spending time with the family boating on the Muskegon River. Ernie was a Master Plumber and a member of the West Michigan Plumbers, Fitters and Service Trades Local #70 (now Local #174) for over 30 years. He served as Business Agent/Manager for the Local from January 1975 until his retirement in January 1992. Ernie was preceded in death by his sisters, Elvira Saccucci, Saraphine Wheeler, and Joanne Sherbinski. He is survived by his children, Michael and Janice Baldini, Laurie and William Walton, Ric and Deborah Baldini and Jayme and Dennis Levin; 9 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. A mass celebrating Ernie’s and Sally’s lives will take place on October 1, 2020 at St. Jude Catholic Church at 11:00am with entombment in Resurrection Cemetery following. Contributions in Ernie’s memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. To read more about Ernie’s life, to share a favorite memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com