Clarence E. Eriksen (’66)

Clarence Emile “Erik” Eriksen, Jr., passed from this world on Monday, the 20th of July 2020. He was 76 years of age.

We will miss his kind soul, his lovely and funny gap-toothed smile, his vast knowledge of pretty much everything, his ability to laugh uncontrollably at movies only he really found funny, his joy, his unstoppable need to back seat drive (he was always right), and his dedication to the promises of loyalty he made throughout his entire life.

Erik was BOI on the 18th of August 1943, to Ruth Elisabeth (nee Almgren) and Clarence Emile Eriksen, Sr. He and his younger brother, Ronnie, lived in Galveston until his parents passed away less than a year apart in 1954 and 1955. Erik and Ronnie then went to live with various aunts and uncles, under challenging circumstances, which they endured together.

Erik attended the University of Houston and was a lifelong, proud Houston Cougar, especially during basketball season. He was a member of Sigma Epsilon Phi and numerous academic fraternities, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1965. Erik went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1968, whereupon he was immediately invited to serve his country.

Erik served in the United States Army, Signal Corps, from August of 1968 until his honorable discharge in June of 1971. He achieved the rank of Captain. During his service in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for meritorious achievement in ground operations, three Bronze Service Stars, and an Army Commendation Medal. Erik was most proud of the orphanage that he and fellow soldiers established and supported in Vietnam, which served children left parentless by the war. Erik returned to Houston where he began working as an engineer for General Electric at NASA. He would participate in many space projects, including Skylab. While working fulltime at NASA, Erik took night classes at the University of Houston School of Law, graduating Order of the Barons in 1975.

During this same period, Erik met Nancy Kay Banwart, and they were married on September 8, 1971. Marriage came with Nancy’s 8-year-old daughter, Sherie-Marie, who Erik embraced as his own. Years later, having given up on adding to their family, Erik and Nancy were pleasantly surprised by the birth of their daughter Erin Elizabeth in 1985.

Erik practiced intellectual property law until he mostly retired in 2012. He was a partner with Arnold, White and Durkee, and later a principal of his own intellectual property firm. He genuinely loved the practice of law and would talk often about his cases—sometimes to himself when he thought no one was listening.

In retirement, Erik spent as much time as he could in his native Galveston. Erik was an avid crossword puzzle solver, completing them in pen every morning, and no one could rival his love of the TV show Law and Order.

Most meaningful to Erik were faith, family, and human decency. He was a member and former Deacon of St. Francis Episcopal Church, and he was married to Nancy until her death in 2013. He served as a constant and steady presence for both of his daughters and reveled in his role as Pop Pop to his granddaughters. His sense of community extended beyond his family. Whether at Kroger Pharmacy or Hummel’s in Galveston, Erik would come to know the names and life stories of those who worked there. His charm was sincere and he treasured these relationships.

Erik is survived and dearly missed by his daughters, Sherie Beckman and Erin Eriksen; his granddaughters, Dylan and Hannah Beckman; his nieces and their families; and two stupid but beloved cats, Mortimore and Jethro.

Erik’s family would like to thank the staff of St. Luke’s CICU, where Erik spent his final days, and also Dr. Herlihy, who cared for Erik until the end and compassionately kept his family informed when the spike in COVID cases prevented visitors at the hospital.

The family will gather for a private funeral service on Friday, the 31st of July at St. Francis Episcopal Church.

In lieu of customary remembrances, Erik’s family asks that everyone just wear their dang masks in honor of our families, our community, our healthcare providers, and the country that Erik loved.

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