San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 16th, 2012
Ernest E. Cummings, 1919-2012



Ernest Cummings was born on his mother’s 21st birthday,  June 15, 1919,  at the family’s farm in Morrowville, Kan. He was the first child of James Dell “Jim” Cummings and Ora Belle Frager Cummings.


His brother, James, was born four years later on Oct. 16, 1923. The Cummings farm was located in the path of a 12″ oil pipeline being built between Teapot Dome, Wyo. and Freeman, Mo. As Jim Cummings watched men and mules struggle to complete the work, he began to come up with ideas and inventions, including the bulldozer, that would revolutionize the pipeline industry.

In the early 1920s, the family left the Kansas farm for Texas and lived in many places where oil and gas pipelines were being built. They settled in Houston in the 1930s where Crutcher-Rolfs-Cummings Pipeline Equipment Company (CRC)  was founded in 1933.

Ernest grew up in the industry, designing and building pipeline equipment for much of his life. He and James also raised Hereford cattle and belonged to the 4-H Club. In 1938, as a 4-H member in Harris County,  Ernest was awarded a trip to the Fifteenth National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago for his report on Rural Electrification.

In 1942, Ernest operated the family farm at Simonton, raising corn, cotton, alfalfa hay and Hereford cattle. About this time, the Cummings family sold the farm and moved to San Marcos where they purchased the Alvord Farm, known then as Valley View Farm, and now known as Green Valley Farm.

Ernest was unable to join the military during World War II because he had double vision as a result of childhood measles. His brother, James, did go away to the war and was killed in France on Nov. 28, 1944.

Ernest’s vision had been corrected with glasses when he was a child. He learned to fly airplanes and received a certificate for his first solo flight from Ragsdale Flying Service at Thompson Field in San Marcos in 1946. He became a member of the Civil Air Patrol.

He operated a large irrigation system at Green Valley Farm in 1945, and the following year he and his father built an alfalfa dehydration plant to make alfalfa meal for use in poultry and dairy feed. Later on, Ernest left the farm to again work for Crutcher-Rolfs-Cummings. He spent a number of years servicing pipeline jobs in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 1962 he received a patent for a line-up air clamp which he designed and built for use in welding together lengths of pipe.

Also in 1962, Ernest and Sally met when she was employed at CRC, and they were married the same year. Sarah was born in 1964, followed by Mary Beth and Kate Marie. In 1969, Ernest and the family moved from Houston to a farm near his parents’ farm in San Marcos. Alan was born in San Marcos in 1975.

Ernest was a founding member of the San Marcos River Foundation. He was named Outstanding Conservation Farmer of Hays County in 1989 and served on the boards of directors of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Hays County Farm Bureau (1983-2001), and the Farm Service Agency.

For a number of years he assisted the Texas Agricultural Extension Service growing grain sorghum and he provided farmland for Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) to use for Research for Tractor Field Performance in 1995 and 1996.

He assisted other organizations over the years including San Marcos Baptist Academy. In 2003, Ernest was selected to represent Hays County in a publication by Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority entitled “Stewardship of the Land. . . Our Heritage”.  

The effects of a stroke in 2001 changed his life from one of independence to dependence upon others, but he remained positive and cheerful until his life came to a close on the morning of Oct. 15, 2012 at the age of 93.

Those who passed on before him were his brother James H. Cummings,  parents Ora Cummings (1979) and Jim Cummings (1981), and grandson Jason Cummings (1986).

Ernest is survived by Sally J. Cummings, his wife of 50 years, his children from his earlier marriage in 1947, James R. “Scootie” Cummings and Kathryn Ann (and Stanley) Baker, and Ernest and Sally’s children, Sarah Cummings Noteboom, Mary Beth (and Richard) Braun,  Kate Marie (and Michael) Spell and Alan E. Cummings and his wife Jennifer Hobbs Cummings; 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by his extended family, including Ruth Ann Hobbs, Janet Wisian, Leone Gruter, Patricia and Rob McCollom, many friends and his devoted companion dog Brownie.

For 6 1/2 months, Ernest lived in “comfort care” provided with extraordinary compassion and skill by the staffs of Regent Care and Central Texas Medical Center Hospice Care. The family deeply appreciates all who cared for him. For those who wish to do so, memorials may be made to CTMC Hospice, 1315 IH 35 North, San Marcos,   78666 or to a charity of your choice.

A service will be held at San Marcos City Cemetery Tabernacle at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, led by Brother Jim Lanning and Chaplain Merlin Starr followed by a reception at Emerald Acres, 1819 N. Old Bastrop Hwy. (CR 266) located midway between Highway 80 and the San Marcos River (east side of CR 266).

Arrangements under the care and guidance of Pennington Funeral Home, 323 N. Comanche, San Marcos, 353-4311. Obituary and guestbook online at

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One thought on “Ernest E. Cummings, 1919-2012

  1. We will miss Ernest Cummings, but he left a large family that continues to contribute to the community in many ways. One of his daughters who now lives in East Texas has apparently inherited the story telling gene, and at the reception after his service, she was able to tell us the story about the elephant that escaped the circus in San Marcos in the late 50’s. It was found bathing in the river by her grandparents, and having a grand time. We really need to get this story written down, but that would not capture all the mimicry of her grandparents’ voices in their discussion of the elephant and how it was returned to its owners. It was like listening to Ernest again.

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