Please send your memories of Eric to me at dderoux@gmail.com and we will post them to this page. Thank you-

Dear JoAnn, Dan, Katie, and Austin,

Our family is very saddened by your tremendous loss.

We remember Eric as a very young boy, when he visited Kamchatka many years ago. Eric was the first American boy we ever met in our lives. He was smart and funny, and we were very happy that he became friends with our son, Leonid. We will always treasure those wonderful memories of our boys spending time together. They learned a lot from each other, but mostly they learned to appreciate different cultures, languages and the WORLD.

Much later, our other son, Andy, had a privilege working with Eric at Princess Tours in Juneau. Andy says, he remembers Eric as a very nice, kind and caring young man. Just like Eric, Andy loves hiking and climbing the mountains. He feels deep sadness that such tragedies even happen.

Eric will always live in our hearts. We will always, always remember Eric as a wonderful, sweet, yet brave and adventurous young man. We love your family very much, and will have all of you in our thoughts and hearts at this difficult time.

With much sorrow and love,

Janna, Anatoly, Lonia, Andy and Anton

(Lelchuk-Khmelev family)

Eric and I, (from David Shepro)

Football Team Slogan

 

The JDHS football team had a key phrase made into an acronym that only team members would know the meaning of. My junior year the slogan was NGUNNGU – Never Give Up Never Never Give Up. Our senior year Eric coined the team phrase, and we all adopted it. It was DINAO – Defeat Is Not An Option.

Sleeping on the Roof of Knechts Auto Parts

I was passing through Seattle in April of 2001, so I called Eric up to see if he wanted to hang out. After doing a tour of the University of Washington and eating at one of Eric’s favorite places, we had this last minute idea to take a train to Corvallis and surprise my brother Joseph. We weren’t concerned that he didn’t know we were coming, and that we didn’t know his exact address, and that we didn’t have cell phones, and that we had only a few dollars+, and that I was wearing a paper thin jacket, and that Eric was wearing only a t-shirt, and that our train would arrive at midnight.

The train dropped us off in Albany, about 10 miles from Corvallis, so we started the long walk. After a mile of walking we realized it was a bit far for a midnight stroll. We switched to hitchhiking and soon thereafter were picked up by a college student making the trip in his jeep. He delivered us into the hands of Corvallis, dropping us off near a pay phone. We tried calling my brother, but there was no answer. It was nearing 2am at this point, so this shouldn’t have been such a surprise to us. With no other options before us, we decided to walk through Corvallis until a nearby restaurant opened up.

The sleep deprivation really started to hit us, me especially. I was ready to go to sleep immediately, no matter what the location. I spotted some bushes and told Eric I was going to go to sleep in them. In his most optimistic voice possible, he pleaded with me to keep going. “C’mon Dave, keep going! We have to keep going.”

In an act of desperation, I searched around for another option. Across the street I spotted a Knechts Auto Parts. There was a dumpster next to the building, and it looked like you could reach the roof from the top. I made my proposition to Eric. “What if we slept on the roof of that building?” Eric paused for a moment, and then said, “Ok” (still optimistically of course).

We climbed on to the dumpster and from there we were able to scale the building to make it to the top. The roof had a gravelly/sandpaper like texture, but it was sufficient for our bed, and the roof had a two-foot-tall lip on it, so we felt our privacy was secure. We laid down and said our goodnights.

The lack of sleep may have dulled our senses to the temperature, but after 15 minutes of sleep, the cold became uncomfortable to the point that we could no longer sleep. After all, I had a wind breaker, and Eric had only his t-shirt. We both had pulled our arms in to our tops in hopes of preserving more warmth. After an hour of freezing, I turned to Eric and asked if we could our backs together to stay warm. He was going to ask just the same. So there we slept, back to back, on the roof of the Knechts Auto Parts in Corvallis, Oregon.

We woke up shortly after 5am, still tired, but with enough rest to move on in our quest to find my brother. We climbed down from the roof, and staggered down the road like two zombies, both in gait and in appearance.

Zombies must be frowned upon in Corvallis, because we hadn’t made it 100 yards from our frosty living quarters when a police officer pulled in front of us on the sidewalk. He asked if we had just left a party and inquired as to how much alcohol we had drunk. With slurred speech, we made it clear we weren’t the partying type, and that we were trying only to find my brother. He took our licenses and did a quick background check, then let us go.

Nearing 6am, Eric and I came across “Shari’s Café and Pies”, and to our relief it was open for breakfast. We had just enough for two mugs of hot chocolate. After telling the waitress our story, she decided to give us the hot chocolate for free. The waitress enjoyed our story so much that she offered to let us sleep on her couch. She also said that we could do some drugs with her and her friends.

Eric and I were never ones to turn down the hospitality of others, but the thought of sleeping in a drug house was concerning, and a situation we were desperate to get out of. With a prayer in our hearts, we gave my brother one last call from the Shari’s phone, and success!

My brother picked us up shortly thereafter and we slept in to noon.

Bus Drum Beats

 

Eric and I were tour guides together in the summer of 2003. Whenever we had breaks waiting for our passengers at the glacier or Allen Marine, we would visit each other’s busses. After some interesting conversation (one of Eric’s greatest strengths), we would inevitably break into a march. We would march up and down the aisle using our chest and legs as drums, stomping to the beat. I’ve never shared this with anyone, and writing it now it seems a bit peculiar, but it seemed perfectly natural to us at the time. Our drumming march became a tradition for us up through our last meeting together.

Save the Ducklings

 

Eric once recounted the best bus tour he had ever given. He said the whole tour was just perfect. He knew exactly what to say and when. He was funny, he was insightful, he was eloquent. The passengers hung on his every word.

As Eric headed back into downtown Juneau to bring the tour to a close, one of the passengers spotted a mother duck and her ducklings crossing the road. Eric slammed on his brakes and announced on his microphone, “Don’t worry ladies and gentlemen, I will not hurt these ducks!” And sure enough he stopped just in time to keep the ducks safe. The whole bus erupted in cheering and applause. It was his best tipping day ever.

A Friend Indeed

 

I was hiking the west glacier trail during a particularly trying time. My girlfriend had broken up with me and I was at one of my lowest points. I told my family where I was headed, and that I needed to go think. My intention was to hike until I couldn’t walk anymore.

I arrived at a beautiful vista that overlooked the glacier and decided this was a good spot to take a rest. I laid down on the ground to enjoy the view and think and hope for some peace. Unfortunately, I could not elude my gloom even in these wonderful conditions. Still feeling restless, I moped back down the trail towards home.

 

Halfway down the trail I found Eric blazing up it! He had called my family asking where I was, and was determined to go up and find me. It was the light I needed to turn my melancholy around. I couldn’t help but smile. My ever-faithful friend Eric had come to help me in one of my darkest hours.

 

Eric and I made it down the rest of the trail, telling stories and discussing all the interesting things. I’ll always be grateful to Eric for this time we spent together.

New Approach to Gaming

 

We played A LOT of board games together. Eric would take non-traditional approaches to playing games. Some people find a way to win and stick with it, and Eric was brilliant enough that he could have done this, but that wasn’t enough for Eric. He had to win in a unique way. I think he found more joy almost winning in a very unique way than winning outright in a very traditional way.

 

Locker Room Bullies

 

Eric and I took a swimming class together our junior year in high school. In that class there was a skinny little kid that Eric knew (I guess he lived out the road? I didn’t know him.) that was picked on in the locker room after nearly every swimming class. He would get snapped with towels, get his towel yanked away, and was even locked in a locker a few times. Eric would be the one to let him out of the locker even when pressured not to.

 

One-time Eric let him out of the locker and the kid freaked out. He got very violent and gave the impression that he wanted to fight someone. Of all people, he got in Eric’s face and challenged him to a fight, saying that Eric should hit him and that he was going to hit Eric. This instantly set me off. I told him that Eric was the one who got him out of the locker. He went on as if he didn’t hear and continued to challenge Eric. I then got right next to the kid and told he can fight me, but still the kid didn’t deviate his focus from Eric. I then turned to look at Eric and couldn’t be more proud. He stood tall and firm and brave. He didn’t move forward to fight the kid (Eric would have crushed him if he had chosen to do so, seriously crushed him), but he also didn’t back down. He unflinchingly stood his ground and said nothing to the insults that were being flung at him, despite the challenger getting to the point where he was nearly in tears of fury. Eventually the kid turned away in apparent frustration and left the locker room. I and others then asked Eric why he didn’t hit the kid, but Eric said nothing.  

I later found out that the kid was breaking mentally from being bullied so much. He felt that he had to take a stand so that he would never be bullied again, but knew that if he got in a real fight with someone there’s no way he could win. He had to challenge someone that he knew would never fight him no matter what he said, so he challenged Eric. He later apologized to Eric for what he said, and thanked him profusely for not hitting him. Eric forgave him. And as it turns out the kid’s game of chance worked out and no one messed with him any more.

 

This was one of the most difficult situations I’ve seen someone have to maintain their composure through. Eric had to be bullied in order to save someone from being bullied. But he did it and he was flawless. He may be one of the rare and chosen people who could deal with it.

Eric and BJ on the Alcan (as written in a letter to me from Eric)

 

Our trip down the coast was a blast! We took the ferry to Skagway where we started our drive. That night we had made it as far as the desolate Canadian Kassier highway before my headlights went out (my car is plagued with electrical problems). Since we were pressed for time (on account of my registration deadline and BJ’s burning desire to get to Bend), we decided to continue using my flashing emergency lights as our only source. I have to admit that driving down a windy dirt road at 50 mph at night with only my emergency lights ranks in the top 5 craziest/stupidest things that I have ever done. Anyway, at about 4am we pulled off the road and slept in the car for a few hours. The next day was pretty uneventful until about midnight when a Canadian police officer (a Mounty) pulled us over and seeing that we were delirious with fatigue (it took me 5 minutes to find my registration and BJ kept butchering the names of the Canadian cities that we had passed through) He calmly explained that we were apparently drunk or stoned or complete idiots to be driving at 1am, and then he did something that I would never expect any officer to do. He pointed to a nearby motel and with his Mounty authority, ordered us to bed. He said that if we didn’t immediately check in and get some sleep he would give us the tickets that we were entitled to for driving in such a state (our tail lights apparently were not working). So BJ and I sulkingly agreed to check in, and after a few hours of badly needed sleep, we pressed on. The next day we arrived in Bend.

Drunk Guy in my Roommate’s Bed (as written in a letter to me from Eric)

 

It’s always interesting to meet people on the edge. Speaking of people on the edge, I have a little story to tell you which I just remembered. It’s one of those crazy “college events” which I thought only happened in MTV movies. It was a memorable experience for my freshman roommate though, who is living away from home for the first time. At about 5am last Friday night I was awakened by the sound of my roommate’s voice. At first I thought he was talking in his sleep, when I heard another voice in a much lower tone. Startled, I looked over to see an exceedingly drunk guy trying to crawl into bed with my roommate. Each time he would uncover my roommate’s blankets, my roommate would push him away saying “This isn’t your room. Go way. YOU’RE IN THE WRONG ROOM!” To this the drunk guy would nod and slowly say, yeah, uh huh, and then try to crawl into my roommate’s bed again. After about two minutes we eventually got him out the door. It was crazy. The guy was lucky my roommate isn’t a hockey player, or he didn’t stagger into a woman’s floor, or RA’s room. Anyway, we lock our door now, especially on Friday nights.

Random Thoughts

  • I wanted Eric to marry my sister. I honestly thought he would someday. It was my dream to have my best friend also be my brother.

  • We would, on occasion, play chess online, us on one computer, and our opponent somewhere else in the world. We would use our joint brains to play our opponents. We ended up as a pretty exceptional team. We came to the conclusion that this wasn’t fair, but we had a lot of fun in the process.

  • I would joke that Eric is a beard dye model, because he looks like the guys from those beard dye boxes. His beard was always perfect.

  • Eric was the most amazing conversationalist. I felt confident introducing him to anyone, knowing that he would have instant chemistry with whoever he spoke with. He could have a conversation with a moose, and I’m sure that moose would leave feeling he just had the most wonderful discussion with that bearded fellow.

  • Eric had the highest bench press on the football team for a while. He put up 240 lbs!

  • Eric and I played a fair amount of Dungeons & Dragons together over the past two years. He is the only person I’ve known to play a pacifist character in the game. He played a wizard that would harm no other being. He got by using hypnotism, sleep, charm, illusion, and other like spells. Once, just once, he dropped a fireball on a group of bad guys due to pressure from the group. After that I sensed a genuine remorse from Eric. He swore to never cast another harmful spell again. This game was just a type and shadow of who Eric was and who he aspired to be.

  • Eric really believed in me, and leant me strength and encouragement when I couldn’t muster any in myself. My grades were quite poor in high school, and it would turn out to be a surprise to many, including myself, that I actually made it through college (let alone accepted to one). But it never seemed to be a surprise to Eric. He saw something in people that they couldn’t see in themselves, and through his encouragement helped them to reach their greatest potential.

  • Eric cooked my family the most amazing dish we’ve ever had. He came to my Juneau home and prepared a Portuguese dish consisting of clams, shrimp, and various other seafoods. The dish in whole must have cost him well over $100, but he asked for no compensation and seemed content to see that we were happy and enjoyed the meal. A core piece of Eric – his personal happiness got a major boost from seeing others happy.

A Poem I wrote for Eric–  My Friend, My Friend

My friend is gone, my friend, my friend. I fear my heart has stopped.

I miss his face unto no end his kinship can’t be topped

The pain persists from day to day because he is not here

But all the tears can’t bring him back nor his voice to hear

He was strong and brave and kind and always stood with grace

I’ll ne’er forget his gentle ways nor his comely place

He cared for me, he cared for all, which made him so unique

He’d never want to see such grief, no tear stream down my cheek

I know one day we’ll meet again and share our times of play

Forever makes this life seem short, so I live day to day

For now he’ll sail eternities and learn the things of God

Until those times come back again and side by side we’ll trod

I know we’ll get to be near soon, our friendship isn’t done

I’ll carry on until that day, the vic’try we have won

When times are tough, unbearable, the times I can’t get through

He’ll think of me, I’ll think of him, and leave from shades of blue

I miss my friend, I miss my friend, I miss him wrong or right

But until then I can stay strong, I will get through the night

It’s hard to lose the ones you love, it’s hard to work through pain

I know that thought would hurt him though, perhaps I can refrain

Our fun times do not need to stop, dear moments need not end

This life is but a speck in time, I’ll soon be with my friend

 

Eric Quotes from Letters

  • You see a lot of interesting things on frat row. Some of the trees have scores of shoes hanging from them. Yesterday I saw two old orthodox looking Jews playing one on one with black hats and long beards outside the Jewish Student Organization house. I wished I had a camera.

  • I have a chemistry professor who is an ancient Czech. He said that he fled the former Czechoslovakia when the Russians invaded in WWII. He said that he was a graduate student at that time which makes him at least 75 years old. Nevertheless he is boisterous and always full of energy. He could be 40 for his appearance and attitude. He has a fairly heavy accent and is always saying things like “Des graduate styudeents are great no. Dey are my slaves yes.” He is by far my coolest professor this quarter.

  • I saw two missionaries on campus a few days ago. They reminded me of you and Jamin and Trent. I told them that I appreciated what they were doing. That goes for all of you as well.

  • I’ve read bits and pieces of the Bible. My favorite stories are that of Job, and the rising of Laserus in the New Testament. I think that they illustrate many of the things we face in life. I can’t wait till we can discuss such things again.

  • Two years always seems like an eternity but sure enough, it passes.

  • I noticed that I have said “I can’t wait” about 4 times so far in this letter. I can’t think of a better expression though. It’s a good feeling to say you can’t wait and yet be happy where you are.

  • *sends letter with star stickers all over it. Calls it “The Star Spangled Letter”*

  • I got your package last night. …The two one dollar coins were especially important on account of a little story which would be pretty insignificant if I weren’t so superstitious. You see, back in the dark days of my freshman year, someone traded me two one dollar coins for quarters right before I took an important biology exam. It turns out that it was the first college exam in which I got an “A”. I put the one dollar coins in a special pocket in my wallet as good luck charms. Just last week I was driving to San Francisco to visit my grandparents. I had almost no money for gas except the two one dollar coins which I exchanged for just enough to make it into San Francisco. Anyway, I told the attendant that I was on the wrong pump and someone else drove off with my two dollars in gas. I had to drive back and spend the weekend in Davis minus my good luck charms. When I found your two one dollar coins in the box, I put them in the same pouch. My luck charms have been restored. A pretty silly story but I thought I would tell you about it anyways. It illustrates one of my important beliefs. I believe that each of your friends has some degree of influence on your character, and thus share in your successes and failures to the extent that they have contributed to shaping your outlook on life. Before I take a test I usually have a mental roll call of the people who would wish me to succeed. I think that it is important to remember, in times of trial, that the hopes of our friends are with us. Your dollar coins will serve as a good luck charm, but more importantly they will be a reminder of all the people who have influenced the decisions that have lead me to make the choices that I have made.

  • I remember telling you that one day we would be sipping lemonade in California talking about the years since high school. That will probably never come to pass. Rather, someday, we will probably wind up walking down pike street market together, eating ice cream and talking about a Huskies game.

  • I have living in a small suburban house with five Davis volleyball players. Crazy eh? All of them are powerfully built, but they are all over 5’10” and are probably stronger than me. We all seem to get along pretty well and I think that it might actually be one of the best housing situations that I’ve had since high school. They sort of remind me of female versions of some of our football friends, loud and boisterous (I’m probably the most feminine one in the house).

  • The volleyball girls told me I had to leave. Apparently their team captain came up from San Jose two weeks early so I was given the frosty boot. It was ok though, since they didn’t charge me for rent for the month I stayed there. I thought that it was more than enough compensation. They were all very nice and sort of cute in a barbarous, jockish way.

  • I have no idea where I will be living in Seattle. Probably in some dumpster with housing prices the way they are.

  • I believe that you have the courage and dedication to become whatever you want to be. I mean that seriously. And it’s something that I would not say of many people. If you ever feel that you have nothing, remember that you have my confidence.

  • I really can’t believe that it’s been almost two years. I think that so far my college years have seemed to be the “fastest” time in my life. It seems like I could fit 2 years of college in just 6 months of high school. Perhaps it will just keep going faster and faster. They say that’s usually the case since a year becomes a small percentage of your life as you grow older. I can’t believe that I spent 10% of my life in Fairbanks (luckily this percentage will get smaller as well).

  • Genetics is pretty tough, but in the words of Hutch, “It’s beatable”.

  • I still remember the one I heard with you about a year ago where the returning missionary spoke about “great things coming from little things”. It was very inspirational. I often think about that when I’m studying for a seemingly worthless exam. Hopefully all of our efforts will amount to something great someday, and we will be able to look back and say that it was all worthwhile.

  • As always, right now I am writing this letter and you are reading it.

  • I had my wisdom teeth removed yesterday and have been moping around my house in a semi-conscious state these last two days, so if this letter seems incoherent, at least you know why.

  • The more time that I spend at UAF the more it seems like something out of the twilight zone. There are quite a few bizarre aspects to that school.

  • Since my roommate transferred over Christmas break I have my room to myself. It’s actually sort of lonely. I thought a single room would be a lot cooler than it actually is. I guess freakish company is better than none at all.

  • I want to say as a friend that I am proud of what you are doing, and am sure that it is benefitting people’s lives.

  • Well my chemistry class is fast approaching and I had better start finishing up this letter, but before I do I want to say that your comment about wishing that we were brothers was probably the best compliment that I have ever been given. I have to say that if I could choose anyone as my brother, it would undoubtedly be you. Your morality and kindness have been a great inspiration to me throughout late high school and college. I wish you could have known how good it was to get your letters throughout my dark, miserable days in Fairbanks. When I talk about my closest friends I always feel driven to live up to their expectations and I find that their memory more than anything brought out the best in me.

  • I would like to think of our visit to you in Riverside as a sort of christening of my new life. Although you may not have realized it, you have tossed the champagne (nonalcoholic of course) bottle against the bow of my future. Ok, bad analogy. Anyway, I’m glad that we will have been reunited.

  • Elder Shepro we all miss you so
    You’re the missionary of our dreams
    We miss your smile, your goofy poems,
    And your theological schemes
    Some will say that missionaries are bothersome,
    But we could hardly care
    Cause you’re just as moral as Brian Crapo
    Without all that facial hair

    All right, it’s a pretty stupid poem, but it took too much effort to undo (which is how I’m beginning to feel about college by the way).

  • My A in organic chemistry was a major moral victory, a sort of Gettysburg in my academic career. It seems like medical school isn’t quite such an impossible feat anymore, although it’s still a long, long ways away both in terms of academics and maturity. I figure that as long as I still laugh at old episodes of Beavis and Butthead, I have a long way to go.

  • My roommate is a Swedish exchange student, who is supposed to be one of the best college marksmen in the world. He’s always talking about serving as a sniper in the Swedish army. His accent makes him sound just like Arnold Schwarzenegger. All in all I think he is going to be a pretty good roommate.

  • I spend about 9 hours a week in the organic chem lab alone (organic lab has the terrible combination of being both extremely boring and fairly dangerous). It hurts to think of how fit/strong I might become if I could only spend those hours in the gym. Oh well, I guess we can’t do everything (but we can do some things, and just because we cannot do everything, we will not refuse to do the things which we can do. I love that).

  • After seeing slides and pictures of horrible injuries in my EMT class, I am beginning to realize how trivial so many of the things that I considered important really are. Hopefully volunteering will give me a more accurate sense of the things that truly are important and should not be taken for granted.

  • Well, I am beginning to approach the end of the page. Keep the torch burning as you illumine the path of righteousness. Floss your teeth and wear matching socks.

    Friends Forever, Eric Zentner

You and Eric have been on my mind.  I searched Eric's name in my inbox and read through some of our old correspondence.  The last email he wrote simply stated,"God be with you", this was after learning of my tumor and prior to surgery. I always viewed Eric as an enlightened being and really appreciated him directing his thoughtful and powerful energy to me,  his words felt like a true blessing and were very comforting at the time. I want to direct Eric's blessing back to you and your family and hope that you are able to find comfort in knowing that Eric was divine and is still with us, just in a different form.

 

Mine and Eric's conversations inside and out of the office spanned from the metaphysical to funny cat behavior, he always added depth, wisdom and humor to whatever we talked about. One summer, when Eric lived in Ester,  we split a Calypso farm share and alternated weekly pickups of fresh veggies. We spent a lot of time talking about nutrition, cooking and healthy ways of living.  I recall Eric enjoyed cooking  Asian inspired dishes with his veggies, he also walked or biked several hundreds of miles that summer.  He literally walked the talk of healthy living.   We also discussed the uniqueness of living in interior Alaska, Eric adored the Ester community and embraced cabin life without ever complaining about the cold, dark or inconvenience of not having running water, it was just all part of the experience, he was an active participant and observer. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever heard Eric complain or pass negative judgement about anything. Eric was a very positive influence in so many ways.

 

Eric really enjoyed the simple things in life, good food, authentic people,  daily movement and nature. I believe walking was his form of meditation, he really inspired me to be more mindful on my walks, ironically, Eric generally always comes to mind on my longer strolls, and when Eric comes to mind, my next thought is, how can I emulate Eric's gentle and kind spirit though my words and actions?  In that way, I believe Eric's divine energy is with me and all of us.

 

I'm sorry I couldn't attend Eric's celebration. I think of you and your family often, and of course, Eric.

 

Sending much love,

 

Lisa

From Roald Simonson

I am writing these notes as I’m flying back to Alaska from Venice Italy. A week ago last Saturday I was honored to share some memories and ruminations of my friend Eric live from Venice via smartphone video with those gathered for Eric’s memorial celebration in Juneau. I’d like to contribute at least some written thoughts now for Eric’s Marin memorial. 

Since I’m traveling as I tap this out on my phone that’s perhaps a good place to start. Eric was a great and curious traveler. We liked to share our experiences of where we’d been and where we’d like to go. I first met Eric when we worked together in legal services in the Alaska state legislature some six years ago. Our working situation was an open yet large comfortable room – a classroom actually of a former historic school and now the famous “confidential area” of legal services. Only a limited of people are allowed to come in there – has to do with securing attorney/client privilege – and so in our work downtime Eric and I got to freely engage a lot as we sat about ten feet across from each other. Turns out we have a thing for Russia and we’re both fans of weird Russian humor, both of the intentional and unintentional sort. We’re both sort of connoisseurs. There’s a website for example that specializes in odd daily news and photos from all over Russia. Every day we’d look at these photos, point out details, make cracks and comments, and often end up going limp with laughter – that’s one of the advantages of working in a confidential area – you can laugh til you go limp! 

Eric was hilarious in his commentary. I remember one set of photos of a huge dam from somewhere in outer deep Siberia where something had gone drastically wrong and the whole thing was covered in ice. Like the worst freezer box multiplied by a billion. And if you closely looked you could see at the bottom there were two workers who looked like they had been sent out to fix the situation. One of them had, like, a hoe while the other watched. Eric did a great very funny imagined conversation between these two in full Russian accent. It included the line “Vait! Cousin has cherry picker. Ve go get.”

Yet on the other Russian hand Eric was the one who introduced me to Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I mean I’d of course heard of the man but I hadn’t read The Gulag Archipelago. Eric had and he’d reread it too. He took me through it, through all the moral physical and spiritual horrors Solzhenitsyn recounted. It was a bracing experience with Eric’s sense of moral justice and outrage illuminating everything. 

Eric was that way – he could be so funny, and, he could be such an exemplary upright person. 

So we travelled imaginatively the globe together. At one point I decided I wanted to learn something about Chinese. Eric had studied Chinese – he’d been to China. Anyway I decided to hire a tutor. We had twice weekly lessons after work at my apartment for a couple months. Eric sittingthere writing out those Chinese multistroke word symbols. I pretty much didn’t get anywhere. But Eric and I would play also at work a language game. There’s a word of the day website where you can choose among many languages a word which you can play out loud and then also out loud a sentence using the word. Eric would test me on Russian – I’m pretty terrible – and then I’d test Eric on Chinese. It was uncanny how Eric always got the word and the sense ofthe sentence. He’d say, “Ok let me hear it again... Ok, once more.   “shienshoru” ... “Sunflower.” “Let us walk in that field of sunflowers.” Like I say, uncanny. 

There was lots about Eric that was uncanny. His mind operated in a very clear but unusual way. But even more so what most people who knew him think of when they think of Eric is they think of his goodness. 

I literally know of no one who didn’t have such high and unqualified admiration of him. 

Everyone liked him.

He had such a sense of decency and justice and kindness. He was spotless. 

Searching for a way to describe this fundamental nature of Eric during my remarks at last week’s Juneau memorial I found myself spontaneously having the word “saintly” come to my lips. 

And I’m glad it did, it is most apt. 

There was something about Eric that was saintly. 

Everyone felt something of this who knew him. Everyone. 

I miss him. I miss him a lot. Truly. 

Love to you all.

Thoughts from Eric's Friends on Facebook

  • "What a great tribute. All of it true too. The world is a little less with his passing." - Seth Wilson

  • "Eric and I rode the bus together as we both lived “out the road”. One of the nicest guys at our school." - Dusty Woodruff

  • "I thought about you when I saw his obituary- I was just brought to tears seeing it- just brought back a flood of memories of our time at Princess- I ran into him at the Seattle airport about a year ago and had a wonderful time catching up with him and sharing stories- so glad I had that time with him- so hard to believe he is gone- praying for his family- such a loss to this world." - Julie Hedges

  • "Wow such a loss I remember Eric being one of the nicest guys you would ever meet and was always willing to help someone. We weren’t real good friends in high school but enough friends that I have many good memories of him. Prays and thoughts go to his family ..." - Jeff Cickler

  • "Thank you for sharing. Really sad. I can remember Eric’s great laugh like it was yesterday." Jed Ballard

  • "many years after high school ended, i ran into Eric in Juneau. we said hello, chatted for a minute, than carried on our way. the next day we had a chance to sit and catch each other up on how life was unfolding for us both. He chuckled along with humble honesty, as did I. bumping into him from time to time he would always stop and chat. He wanted to know more about my life, and my family rather than carry on about what he has been doing. but every time was enjoyable. sad news to hear for sure. but i believe in the words of his tribute. he was and will always be a great man. one day we will all find him. at home in the expanse." - Daniel Fink

  • "I too ran into Eric not long ago...downtown..he asked how life was for me...without getting into detail..his sincere concern of my status was clear and well recieved...it was his nature...we had about a 5 min conversation before we parted ways..i was delighted after all these years...it felt like school again. The way Eric presented himself impressed me more than words...i told my friends...even though they had no idea.."I just ran into an ol' classmate...Eric..." Rest easy buddy" - Jeremy Peterson

  • "I miss Eric. This can help you remember him. He was a wonderful friend to me. Some of my earliest memories are of looking up to him. I've known no one more generous, kind, and good. This is going to take some time." - Justin Parish