Robert William Erickson, 86, died April 15. Bob was born Jan. 31, 1929, to Elmer Ferdinand Erickson and Ingaborg (Belle) Johanna Peterson and grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota, near St. Hilaire.
Bob raised his family in St. Anthony Park and was an esteemed professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Dept. of Forest Resources. He earned his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. in forest products and research at the U. Near the end of his career, he developed and patented the construction of a hollow wood pole (as an alternative to the commercial industry’s solid wood utility pole). The hollow pole was lightweight, decay resistant and engineered for strength.
Bob’s creativity followed in the steps of his great uncle Johan Petter Johansson (1853-1943), a Swedish industrialist and inventor of the pipe wrench, the adjustable wrench and more than 100 other patents.
As a college professor, he traveled the world, visited every continent with the exception of Antarctica (no trees), was an apt student of language, and maintained strong ties to New Mexico.
During the Korean War, Bob served in a U.S. Air Force search-and-rescue unit stationed at Okinawa. He was an avid fan of all sports, though he loved baseball the best, and in the 1950s played for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league.
For more than 40 years, he bowled in a U of M league now called “The Woodpickers.” Bob was a man of faith, hard work, integrity and good cheer, with an irrepressible sense of humor, and was a lover of animals.
He is survived by his former wife, Enid Broderick, and their children, Michael (Mary Kay), Maria (Daniel), Frank, Theresa, Claire (John), Elizabeth, Joanne, and Joseph; seven grandchildren; and his beloved orange tabby, Samson.
A memorial service was held June 6 at the St. Paul Student Center.