Idaho Falls community and civic leader dies, remembered as passionate, upbeat and positive man
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IDAHO FALLS – Friends and family are celebrating the life of a community and civic leader who died last week.
Mel Erickson passed away Thursday, Dec. 17 at his Idaho Falls home at the age of 95. His official cause of death was not released, but his obituary indicates he was under the care of Encompass Hospice.
Erickson had a long career in sales and served on the city council for 32 years. Mayor Rebecca Casper tells EastIdahoNews.com Erickson was “tireless in his enthusiasm for the wellbeing of the community” and many elected officials have benefitted from his advice and mentoring over the years.
“I did not live in Idaho Falls during the years when Mr. Erickson served, but … we all benefit from the seeds that he … helped to plant,” Casper says. “I was able to meet him in 2018 and it was clear to me that he and his wife were still very aware of what was happening in the city. He had opinions and offered insight. The most memorable piece of advice he offered to me was regarding the importance of maintaining a high quality of life for Idaho Falls citizens. He could not have been more passionate about that.”
Erickson was born in Salt Lake City on July 24, 1925, to Henry Leroy Erickson and Erma Sophia Anderson Erickson. He grew up and attended schools in Salt Lake City and graduated from Granite High School. He also attended the University of Utah.
He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Erickson and his wife, Carolyn Janice Lewis, settled down in Idaho Falls after getting married on Feb. 6, 1948.
Erickson worked at many different companies over the years, including Pacific Finance Inc., J.Ed Browning, Hart Pontiac Cadillac, KTEE radio and Harris Publishing. He earned many different awards throughout his career, along with the respect of his peers and associates.
Many remember him best as the city’s longest-serving member of the city council, a position he held from 1964 to 1997.
“Mel was my treasurer when I ran for council in 2017 and (he was) my father Jim’s campaign manager in 1963,” City Councilman Jim Freeman says.
Though Erickson often ran unopposed, the Post Register reports his backing of a city ballot measure in 1989 to let restaurants serve wine on Sundays earned him a narrow victory.
The city honored him for his years of service by naming Mel Erickson Sunnyside Park after him.
“Mr. Erickson most assuredly walked the talk. He was a champion of community and we are fortunate that he stepped up to serve as he did,” says Casper.
Freeman says Erickson also loved to golf. He coached the Idaho Falls High School girls team for many years and had a standing weekly game with his boys and grandkids well into his 80s. He even named Pinecrest Golf Course.
Erickson leaves behind his wife, two daughters, two sons, a brother, 15 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.