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In Memory of Rick Erickson

Richard Michael Erickson was born August 8, 1943 in Seattle, Washington. Pictures from his 7th birthday show Rick dressed in his full cowboy uniform alongside his trusty steed, evidence of his early calling. Rick’s cowboy spirit and love for adventure continued into adolescence and throughout his adult life.

He used funds from his Seattle Times paper route to purchase his first car at age 12 (a 1928 Ford Model A Hotrod). He rented a garage from a local woman to keep the new purchase hidden from his parents. This marked the beginning of a life-long love of all things classic and antique. Rick amassed over 300 pre 1972 vehicles.

Rick graduated from the University of Washington in 1966 with a degree in urban geography. During his years at the UW, he was on the ski team and bowling team, and an active member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

During college, he maintained his cowboy credentials by participating in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), rising to the rank of first lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Following graduation, he spent 2 years in Vietnam running a transportation company in Cam Ranh Bay. His stevedore outfit was in charge of offloading ships and disbursing the munitions, supplies and equipment. In spite of the risks of serving there during the war, he found ways to add enjoyment to the experience. For example, he selflessly volunteered to be the base's Rest & Relaxation officer (a real job, apparently), which allowed him to travel extensively around the region.

His first career after his military service was in the real estate field, first selling properties and later becoming a real estate appraiser. This included work for the Small Business Administration and on the Disaster Relief team in Southern California following the San Andreas earthquake. 

He returned to Seattle in the early 1970s and continued work in real estate until joining the family's timber business, located on the Olympic Peninsula and headquartered in Seattle.

This location would prove to be crucial, as Seattle is where Rick met his wife Suzanne, and where they raised their two children, Laura and Ryan.

Rick owned and operated the cedar shake and shingle mill (which at one point was the largest producing privately owned shake and shingle mill on the west coast!), logging and trucking operations, and a roofing company based in Redmond, Washington. Rick’s entrepreneurship engaged him in many businesses including an aluminum recycling plant. Mill closed in 1993, but Rick turned his passion for cars into a business, opening a dealership in the Seattle area until he retired. When he retired, his passion for cars, auctions, garage sales and the next deal or project never waned.

Over Rick’s lifetime, his love of travel and adventure took him to locations throughout the world, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Sweden (the motherland), France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Morocco, as well as sights throughout the U.S. and Canada. A trip he recalled fondly was a family excursion to Europe for his 21st birthday on the ocean liner, Ile de France. Also, during a stay at the Bel Air hotel, when Rick was 5 years old, he had the pleasure to meet Babe Ruth who happened to be staying at the hotel.

Rick enjoyed fishing and boating in the rivers, lakes, and sounds of the Pacific Northwest. This was something that often brought multiple generations of Ericksons together, on unforgettable trips with his parents as well as Suzie and the children. He fished all over Vancouver Island and one of his most memorable catches was a 49 pound king salmon caught out of Port Alberni.

Rick’s quest for adventure also manifested itself in the kitchen. Never satisfied making ‘simple’ macaroni & cheese for his kids, Rick imposed many experiments on his family that were in turns delicious and horrifying for his subjects. This led to a fearlessness in his children and the next generation of tiny gastronomes, before ‘foodie’ was a word. He also shared this passion with his granddaughter Natalie. He fostered her love for cooking as they discussed recipes and cooked meals together. She was as much a light in his life as he was in hers, and they got along famously!

He was always looking for ways to bring lightness and laughter to a situation. Even when he knew he was nearing the end of his time with us - whether it was a bright ‘good morning’ to his mother-in-law or welcoming friends and family with a joke or warm greeting.

Rick developed some life altering symptoms in mid October 2018 and was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2018. He received treatment for Glioblastoma through the UW Medicine Brain Repository and Integrated Research (BRaIN) laboratory led by but C. Dirk Keene, MD, PhD.

After treatments and some rehab, Rick was able to return to his home at the beginning of February 2019. His strength and upswing surprised all of those around him and he was able to enjoy many of the things he did before the cancer diagnosis. He enjoyed many family meals as well as cherished time with them. His last outing was to make a Lion King Build a Bear with his granddaughter Natalie. An outing that won’t be forgotten. Rick’s decline at the end was rapid and didn’t follow the typical brain cancer suffering model that he had been told to expect. His rapid decline in the last 3 weeks of his life was not only a gift to him, but a gift to those around him. He was a truly incredible man that coveted the rare and unusual. Thus, he chose a rare and unusual day to pass; Friday the 13th of September with a Full Harvest Moon. He passed away at his home very peacefully with his loving family by his side. He is survived by his wife of nearly 42 years Suzanne, children Laura (Marcus) and Ryan (Ermine), and his two grandchildren Kyle and Natalie. Thank you so much for honoring his life.

When others needed advice or mentorship, he willingly shared from his personal experiences and those of others he knew to give the best advice. His decency and integrity were many times strong to a fault. His sophistication was remarkable, his intelligence frightening and his wit was astounding. He was friendly, charming and always went out of his way to make people feel welcome. He will be missed. Rick was 76 years old and was looking forward to accomplishing many more things in life.

Please join in the fight and research against this disease so that others we know and love may not be taken from us sooner than they should be.