In Memoriam: Ernest Auerbach (1916-2010)

Ernest Auerbach was born in Brooklyn, NY, and moved upstate after high school to work in the produce business with his brothers. When World War II broke out, Ernie entered the armed forces by serving first in the horse cavalry, which cemented his relationship with the noble beasts that had begun with his riding horses as a youngster in Prospect Park, and occasionally skipping school to go to the races at Aqueduct Racetrack or Belmont Park. After the war, Ernie moved out to California, and began the Ernest Auerbach Company, a real estate development, management and finance company.

In 1977, Ernie bought a 1000 acre property near Ramona in central San Diego County to use for breeding and training race horses. Named the EA Ranches, Ernie often went there from his home in the Pacific Palisades. His more successful horses included Belle’s Flag and Lottery Winner.

Ernie’s relationship with Ramona and San Diego was not limited to EA Ranches. He founded First Business Bank, a community bank based in San Diego. Ramona was also the focus of one of the charitable activities of Ernie and his beloved wife, Lisa. The Auerbachs donated funds for the construction of a new Ramona library and attended the groundbreaking ceremonies held there on November 16, 2009.

Not all of the Auerbachs’ charitable activities were centered on Ramona. Their philanthropic works benefited many Los Angeles-area organizations, including City of Hope, the Los Angeles Music Center, Ernie entered the armed forces by serving first in the horse cavalry, which cemented his relationship with the noble beasts… American Youth Symphony, Jewish Community of Pacific Palisades/Kehillat Israel Synagogue, St. John’s Hospital, the Jewish Federation Council, American Jewish University.

Ernie’s generosity was also manifest in the advice he freely gave, not only to his two daughters, but to those many people for whom he served as mentor. Some of his pieces of advice, as remembered by his daughters Lorna and Heidi:

You make the money when you buy, not when you sell.

• You can’t live your life in fear.

• Keep all the friends you’ve made on your way up the ladder.

• It’s never too late to learn something new.

• Smile lines are good…laugh lines are better.

Ernie lived a long life, and he was active until the end, which came very quickly. Ernie’s daughter Heidi remembers: “The most important thing Rabbi Howard did for me and for all of us was to bring a sense of calm. Between the horrendous medical situation and the medical equipment, anxious relatives coming from out of town, friends wanting to say their last good-byes, the pace of all of this was out of control…. I just wanted to help him leave…. The Rabbi helped me with that…. She came into the house and she helped us restore calm to the home.” Heidi’s husband, John, added, “…she was useful as an emotional guide. She helped us understand what was appropriate and what was not appropriate.” Rabbi Howard realized, she added later, that the hospice choice aligned with her father’s wishes and beliefs. “In fact,” she added, “with a little more knowledge… we might have been able to get him out of the hospital sooner.”

Heidi also talked about Rabbi Howard’s accessibility. “I could communicate with her what I needed. [She was] one hundred percent always available to me by phone.

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