Saturday, August 21, 2010

Robert Gordon Erickson

Robert Gordon Erickson died August 21, 2010, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, on November 30, 1914, the fifth of seven children of John Erickson (born in Lemland, Aaland, Finland, and Minnie Carlson, born in Sweden).

Bob graduated from St. Joseph High School, where he played basketball and was in track, setting a record in pole vault. He attended Michigan State University and graduated from the University of Chicago. He married Louise Wagner in Winnetka, Illinois, on December 2, 1939. They lived for a few years in Chicago, where Bob worked for Kemper Insurance Co., and their first child, Karin Louise, was born. In 1943, because of their love for Lake Michigan, they moved to Racine, Wisconsin. Bob worked for the J.I. Case Co. for over 30 years, eventually becoming its Budget Director. He and Louise had four more children, Robert Leif, David Nils, James Shipman and John Wagner.

Bob was an athlete who climbed mountains, played tennis and was a skier, swimmer and ice skater. He and Louise also had a substantial intellectual life, founding two Racine literary discussion groups, the Sunday Evening Group and the Tuesday Evening Group. He had a lifelong interest in classical music and particularly loved opera. He also spent much time in the summer at Louise’s family’s cottage on Washington Island, WI. Louise died in 1979 and in 1981 Bob retired from the Case Company.

A few years later, Janet Kuhl, a fellow employee at the Case Company, became his partner for the remainder of his life, more than 25 years. They made many adventurous trips together including several trips to Europe, where they visited the German wine regions of the Rhine and Moselle, spent time in England, and visited Bob’s relatives in Aaland (Finland). He and Janet also frequently attended operas and plays in Milwaukee and Chicago. Bob had an incredible zest for life – family, nature, good food, fine wine, travel. He was always a gentleman, radiating warmth and goodwill wherever he went.

Bob was preceded in death by his siblings Irene, Eleanor, Alice, John and Betty; and by his son, Robert Leif. Bob is survived by his partner, Janet Kuhl, of Racine, Wisconsin; by his brother, George Erickson, of St. Joseph, Michigan; by his children, Karin Ringler of Madison, WI; David Erickson of Madison, WI; Jim Erickson of Boulder CO; and John Erickson of Waukesha WI. He has eight grandchildren: Chris, Diana, Elliot, Catherine, Rudi, Stephen, Tamsie, and Thor, and four great-grandchildren: Archana, Ava, Fritz, and Lauris.

A Memorial Service for Bob will be held on Saturday, August 28, at 1:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 1015 Four Mile Road, Racine, Wisconsin, followed by refreshments. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Racine Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 1874, Racine, WI 53401, or Washington Island Art and Nature Center, 1799 Main Road, Washington Island, WI 54246, (920) 847-2025

803 Main St., Racine  (262) 634-7888

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