The Fence Post obituary: Ernest “Ernie” Hartnagle |

The Fence Post obituary: Ernest “Ernie” Hartnagle

Ernest “Ernie” Hartnagle, 93

Aug. 27, 1925 – May 19, 2019

Kiowa, Colo.

After almost a century of life, Ernest “Ernie” Hartnagle, 93, of Kiowa, Colo., passed away on May 19, 2019. The adored husband, devoted family man, war hero, and legendary dog breeder joined in heaven his cherished wife, Elaine, and beloved eldest son, Joseph.

Born in 1925, the Colorado native grew up in the Boulder area on his family’s 90-acre farm. During World War II, he proudly served for 2-1/2 years in the Navy’s 7th Fleet until the end of the war. Deployed in the Pacific, he earned the Philippian Liberation Medal for his role in emancipating the nation’s citizens from Japanese rule.

At age 20, Ernie returned from the war. His father had died while Ernie was overseas, so he took on the responsibility of managing the family farm, supporting his mother, two younger brothers and sister. He supplemented the farm’s income by working for his uncle as a cowboy, trailing cattle on the steep slopes of the Gore Range, on land that is now the Vail Ski Resort. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in agriculture.

Ernie’s bachelorhood ended shortly after meeting Elaine Gibson, the daughter of a pioneer ranching family. The couple wed following a whirlwind romance. The union resulted in five children: Jeanne Joy, Christine, Joseph, Jim and the youngest, Carol Ann.

In 1953, the couple acquired a bob-tailed dog named Snipper, an event that would change the course of their lives. In 1955, Ernie and Elaine founded Las Rocosa Australian Shepherds and began breeding and training what was then a rare western farm breed.

As founding members of the Australian Shepherd Club of America, the Hartnagle’s played an outsized role in the breed’s development and growth. Ernie served on the ASCA board of directors, then took the role of president for years. He helped create the club’s stockdog program and the entire family helped draft the original breed standard, the “blueprint” for the ideal Australian Shepherd dog.

The family’s pioneering activities helped popularize the Australian Shepherd, now ranked among the 20 most popular breeds in North America.

During his life, Ernie also worked for a prominent Quarter horse ranch, performed a “tour of duty” in the U.S. Postal Service, and served for decades in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency of the U.S. Government, from which he retired.

Ernest Hartnagle is survived by four of his children, his brother Fred, sister Marilyn, four grandchildren, and many hundreds of Australian Shepherds across the world.

Clubs: WWII Veterans Association; Majestic View Church; Australian Shepherd Club of America; High Plains Australian Shepherd Club.

The funeral was held at the Sacred Heart of Mary Church and burial in the Sacred Hart of Mary Cemetary.

Visit: Australian Shepherd Club of America – Ernest Hartnagle Memorial Foundation


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