Honoring Bob Ernst: A Lifelong Dedication to Law Enforcement and History

B ob Ernst’s journey into law enforcement and historical research is a testament to his dedication and love for the field. Born in Stillwater, Minnesota, Ernst’s passion for law enforcement was ignited during his high school years, setting the stage for a career that would span several decades. Marrying Sandra I. Sweitzer in 1965, he embarked on a professional journey that took him from the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office to the Buena Vista Police Department in Michigan, where he eventually retired as a Detective Sergeant.

Transition to Historical Research

Although he achieved significant success in law enforcement, Ernst’s interest in the Old West and historical research led him to leave his career behind. This shift in focus allowed him to explore an area that had always fascinated him: the lives and legacies of U.S. Marshals and their role in the development of the American frontier. Moving to Stillwater, Oklahoma, he dedicated over 20 years to documenting the line-of-duty deaths of U.S. Marshals, a testament to his commitment to preserving their stories.

Contributions to Historical Scholarship

Ernst’s research resulted in the publication of two books: “Killin’ Cops and Robbin’ Banks: The Life and Crimes of Lawrence DeVol” and “Deadly Affrays: The Violent Deaths of U.S. Marshals,” which narrates the stories of 288 U.S. Marshals who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. His work did not go unnoticed, as he authored and published over fifty journal articles in esteemed publications, contributing significantly to the body of knowledge on law enforcement history and the Old West.

``In Search of the U.S. Marshals`` Documentary

Bob Ernst’s deep understanding of the U.S. Marshals Service and his comprehensive research made him an invaluable participant in the documentary “In Search of the U.S. Marshals.” His insights, supported by years of meticulous study and personal travel across the United States for research, provided a rich context to the documentary, offering viewers an intimate look into the sacrifices and challenges faced by U.S. Marshals throughout history.

Dana Celeste Robinson's Tribute

The creator of the documentary, Dana Celeste Robinson, expressed profound sadness upon learning of Bob Ernst’s passing. She deeply appreciated his contributions to the documentary, emphasizing how his research and sharing of photographs enriched the narrative. Ernst’s dedication to bringing the stories of fallen U.S. Marshals to light was instrumental in the success of the documentary, leaving a lasting impact on its audience.

A Life Well-Lived

Beyond his professional achievements, Bob Ernst was a man of varied interests, from promoting Country & Western shows to attending air shows to admire old military planes. His life was marked by a constant pursuit of knowledge and a passion for history, leaving an indelible mark on both his family and the field of historical research.

In Memoriam

Bob Ernst’s passing is a significant loss to the community of historians, law enforcement officers, and all who knew him. His work documenting the lives of U.S. Marshals killed in the line of duty will continue to serve as an essential resource for future generations. As we remember his contributions and dedication, we celebrate the legacy of a man who spent his life in the service of preserving history and honoring those who served. Bob Ernst’s memory and work will continue to inspire and educate, a fitting tribute to a remarkable individual.