We lost one hell of a fighter and good man this week. Ernest Conry, a husband, father and friend to many, lost his battle with mesothelioma on September 18, 2009. He passed away at his home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ernie lived with pleural mesothelioma for over 7 years. His resilience against the disease is truly a testament to the power of a positive attitude. He was always quick with a joke and happy to spread the cheer. For years he attended the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s annual symposium, where he took it as his mission to bring a bit of laughter to the many families and patients in pain.

Ernie once said, “The thing to do is get up and do something. Don’t let the cancer bog you down. Wait until someday it might bog you down, but my God, if you are still moving, keep moving. Go on about like you don’t have a disease. So the thing to do is get up and do something. Keep moving and enjoy it. You know, take the life that you have going for yourself and make use of it.”

Born in 1933 in Tennessee, Ernie moved to St. Louis as a child. He entered the automotive field at age 17, becoming an apprentice auto mechanic at a Ford dealership. He was drafted into the army in 1953, and arrived in Inchon, Korea, six months after the armistice had been signed. From 1950 to 1998, when he retired on a union pension, Ernie worked consistently as a mechanic at a series of Ford dealerships.

Once diagnosed with mesothelioma, he took it upon himself to visit St. Louis area union halls and mechanic shops, distributing literature about the dangers of asbestos. He gave numerous seminars to our staff here at the firm. He taught us a lot – not just about asbestos in the auto industry, but about strength, character and resilience.

Ernie gave freely of himself, and all he ever expected in return was the pleasure of good company. He was a wonderful man. And he will be dearly missed.