Ernest James Puskas, 78, served Castle Hayne and his neighbors

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CASTLE HAYNE – Ernest James Puskas, 78, of Castle Hayne, passed away in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his family on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.

Ernest was born in Wilmington July 9, 1938, son of the late Paul and Julia Puskas of Castle Hayne. He was preceded in death by his brother, John Paul (JP) Puskas, and daughter, Julianne Puskas. He is leaving behind his loving wife of 55 years, Jean; sons, David Puskas his wife Christi and Brian Puskas his wife Mary; daughter, Jennifer Puskas; and sisters, Mary Francis Watkins of Castle Hayne and Betty Lou Coley Horne of Wilmington. He is leaving behind his grandchildren, Jakob Puskas, Kelsie Puskas and David Paul Puskas; step-grandchildren, Austin Adcox, Hayden Watkins, Dylan Watkins; and many special nieces and nephews.

Ernest graduated from New Hanover High School in 1956 and served in the U.S. Army, attending Construction and Surveying School at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Ernest carried on the farming tradition of his parents and grandparents by farming in some capacity most of his life. In 1973 he founded Carolina Contractors Inc. and developed many friendships through his work as a general contractor.

He loved the Castle Hayne community and all of his neighbors. He worked tirelessly to preserve the unique character of Castle Hayne, serving on the Castle Hayne Steering Committee for over 20 years with his good friend, Tom Radewicz, and on the New Hanover County Planning Board for many years. He was very involved in the political community and helped organize many meet and greets in the community for all candidates. He volunteered with the Polish Festival since its inception. His best memories were driving the neighborhood kids around on a hayride during Halloween and neighborhood cookouts.

He always made time to help friends and neighbors, developing many long friendships. He helped the late Dr. Bertram Williams on the farm where he grew his corn crops. He also enjoyed working on many projects with his dear friend and family doctor, Neill Musselwhite, and using his backhoe to assist his good friend and neighbor, Buddy Allard, on his horse farm.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, August 26, 2016 at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Castle Hayne with Father Ryszard Kolodziej officiating. The family will receive visitors at the church one hour prior to the service. Pallbearers will be Jakob Puskas, David Paul Puskas II, Duncan Lewis, Robbie Patterson III, Austin Adcox, Hayden Watkins and Dylan Watkins.

The family would like to thank Amy Patterson Hewett for the special care she provided Mr. Puskas in his final weeks. He loved her like a daughter, providing support and guidance as she grew up just a few houses away. She assisted the family in assuring he received the respect and dignity he deserved as his time grew short.

Memorials may be made to: New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation (NHRMCF) in memory of Ernest J. Puskas for the Heart Center, 2259 S 17th St., Wilmington NC 28401, or St. Stanislaus Kosta Church, in memory of Ernest J. Puskas, 4849 Castle Hayne Rd., Castle Hayne NC 28429.