News and Views

Rev. Ernest “Ernie” Thayil

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The Rev. Ernest “Ernie” Thayil, 87, an ordained Elder, died Jan. 4, 2019, at Frederick Memorial Hospital after suffering a stroke a week earlier. At the time he was serving in retirement at Bethesda UMC in Sykesville. A Celebration of Life service will be held in May.

Ernie William Paul Thayil was born in Bombay, India, Nov. 17, 1931, to John Frederick Shem Thayil and Daisy Agnes Thyle. He attended Don Bosco High in Bombay. He graduated from Union Biblical Seminary in 1954 to pursue his dream of becoming a missionary.

He and Margaret Mary Elisha married in 1956. He became the Director of Bombay Youth for Christ just after their marriage, leaving the position for the United States in 1957 to pursue higher education. He left is wife and 8-month-old daughter for a time.

He arrived in New York on Dec. 5, 1957, after an arduous journey on a cargo ship. He arrived with $14 and a bus ticket to Seattle. He made his way cross country to attend Seattle Pacific College, after a chance meeting with the college president in Bombay.

While attending college, he worked to save enough money to bring his wife and daughter to join him. Through the help of his church and many friends, he was able to bring them over just one year after he arrived.

He received a Bachelor’s in Business & Economics from Seattle Pacific College in 1962. While still a student there in 1960, Ernie founded Operation Outreach at Seattle Pacific College, which was a short-term summer mission trip for students. That program still exists today.

The family moved to Eugene, Oregon, where he attended the University of Oregon and graduated with an MBA in 1966.The Thayils returned to Seattle where he was hired by Boeing as a Systems Analyst and Sales Representative, his first career position. Their two sons were born there.

In 1970, Thayil took a position with Seattle Public Schools as a Special Assistant to the District Superintendent in charge of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. His main focus was to work on desegregating public schools in Seattle. In 1971, when his boss was named the new Superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools, Thayil and his family moved to Baltimore. Drawing from his experience, he was tasked with desegregating Baltimore City Public Schools and instituted a busing plan to accomplish this in a difficult transition time for the city.

He received a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Maryland in 1974, and continued there pursuing his PhD in Education, finishing all but his dissertation. Ernie served Baltimore City Public Schools for 23 years, most of the time as a principal at different levels until his retirement in 1993.

After serving as a Lay Leader for most of his life, he decided to pursue full-time ministry, and was ordained an Elder in 1999.He served several churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, including: Weller UMC, 1992-95; Catoctin Mountain Parish in Thurmont, 1995-96; Prospect-Marvin Charge in Mt. Airy, 1996-2002, when he retired. From 2006-2009, in retirement, he served Catoctin UMC; 2009 to January 2013, Union Bridge UMC in Johnsville; a short time at Flint Hill in Adamstown; a year at Ijamsville, 2013-14; and in 2014 to Bethesda UMC in Sykesville. He had preached his last sermon there Dec. 27, one week before his death.

He loved reading, taking walks when he was able, and an annual beach trip to Ocean City. Caring for each congregation he served was especially important to him. Spending time with his grandchildren was a special joy.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, two brothers, a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter. 

Survivors include his wife, daughter Amy Bartholomee and her husband, sons Jonathan Thayil and Jason Thayil; seven grandchildren and a great granddaughter; four siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews.

Condolences may be mailed to: Margaret Thayil, 11827 Heatherfield Trail, New Market, MD 21774.