Richard Leif Erickson (25), of Puposky, Minnesota, passed from this world on October 8th.
Born the youngest son of Clarence “Clancy” Erickson and Sabrina Wille on October 2, 1996, Richard was known to his family and loved ones by his middle name, Leif. He lived on the shores of Boston Lake in Puposky his entire life, except for the months he worked at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado.
Leif attended Bemidji High School, where he played on the varsity soccer team and took medical career classes before graduating in 2015. He completed his CNA and PCA certifications and worked as a personal care attendant until he sustained a leg injury playing sports. After recovering, Leif worked in automotive jobs and for his grandfather at Wille Logging until the time of his passing.
Leif was gifted in ways the rest of us could only wish to be. Blessed with multiple talents, he had a passion for learning new skills and was always ready for an adventure. He valued the power of connection and made time for friends, new and old.
When Leif was a young child he picked up his father’s acoustic guitar and began to play it by ear. He mastered new techniques with his father’s instruction, by watching others play, through piano lessons after church with Mary Naylor, and by his inner devotion to practicing hours each day from that time forward. He was able to hear a music in his heart and channel it through his guitar as though the instrument was a mere extension of his own body. When Leif played his guitar, an expression of peace would settle on his brow as the music flowed through him, as though he was listening to a sacred melody the universe provided.
In addition to music, Leif also shared his father’s passion for cars. He loved all things automotive and tried to learn everything he could about the mechanics of the machine. He could disassemble an entire car and its engine and rebuild it in two weeks. His face would light up like the sun when he would turn over the engine and hear his project fire up for the first time.
Leif loved snowboarding and skateboarding. He could execute difficult tricks as well as gently teach others how to do more with their boards. He was a natural athlete, with grace and agility that were awesome to see in action. He never tired of sharing those sports with novice and expert enthusiasts. He had room in his heart for anyone that enjoyed boarding or skating, young or old.
While his talents and skills were awe-inspiring, Leif’s deep commitment to his friends and family was beautiful. He loved people. He made time for them. Though he had always been an open person, through unfortunate trauma, Leif understood what it was like to be pushed to the outside of his own community. He spent his last few years extending welcome and inclusion to others that were alienated. He looked on the heart, not on the outward shell.
Through his own struggles with PTSD, chronic physical pain, and self-medication, he had a genuine empathy for those that struggled with disempowerment, injustice, and addictions. His priority had evolved to investing in his friends and being there for them when they needed support. He shared with family that his greatest wish was to help his friends “stay alive,” because he could not bear to lose another one to drugs or suicide. He extended to others the acceptance and inclusion that he wished to receive himself.
Richard Leif Erickson is survived by many that will miss him:
His dearest love of many years, Abby Meyers. His parents: Clancy Erickson (Nadya Point) of Puposky, and Sabrina Wille (Porter E. Coggins III) of Bemidji. His older brothers: Donald Isaac Erickson (Lonie Anderson) and Clarence Asa Erickson (Danielle Mathison), both of Puposky. His beloved grandparents: Nancy Erickson of Bemidji, and Donald and Deborah Wille of Puposky. His father’s sisters: Suzanne (Kevin) Raitz, of California. Sandi Erickson of North Dakota. Sonia (Barry) Tischman of Bemidji. Shelly (Mel) Goodman of Pennington. Sharon Kennedy of Texas. His mother’s siblings: Todd (Sara) Wille of Bemidji. Selena (Elmer) Galdamez of Puposky. His Great Aunt, Lori Jensen of Bemidji and his Great Uncle, Melvin “Sonny” Jensen of Puposky and Superior, Arizona.
Leif had twenty first cousins and even more second cousins that he knew and loved. His family would like to name the four cousins with whom Leif shared especially deep bonds: Charlie Raitz of California. Shelbie Zeltinger of Texas. Aspen Galdamez of St. Paul, and Captain John Jensen, USMC, (Karen) of Okinawa, Japan. Also close to Leif’s heart were his two life-long friends: Ethan Lund of Las Vegas and Shaye Yaklich of Bemidji. Lastly, Leif’s parents wish to acknowledge two special families that welcomed Leif into their homes and hearts. Sincerest gratitude to Tim and Debra Meyers of Bemidji and Eric and Danae Lund, of Bemidji. Thank you for sheltering Leif and loving him like a son.
Leif was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Clarence C. Erickson, of Bemidji.
A visitation will take place on Friday, October 29th at Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home in Bemidji from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. A Lutheran Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, October 30th at Leif’s home church of Our Redeemer’s (1214 Durand DR in Puposky.) Immediately following the ceremony, all are welcome to gather at Eckles Community Center (9735 Cardinal Road NW, Bemidji) to share a meal.
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