Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend
Updated: Apr 29
Pastor Rich Hasselbach
On Wednesday, May 5th, Clarkstown Reformed Church will say goodbye to a lifelong member, Art Erikson. He was born in West Nyack in 1921, the child of Erik and Marie Erikson, who were also members of CRC. Artie grew up in the church. He lived, as a child, in his family's home at 67 Demarest Avenue, within walking distance of our church. At the Reformed Church, Art developed his deep faith and the integrity that became one of the hallmarks of his life.
Artie's life spanned a troubled century. As a child, his family lived through the great depression. Along with the rest of the world, he watched in horror as the National Socialist Party in Germany came to power and began to threaten its neighbors with expansionist policies. Those policies would eventually draw Artie's beloved country into the second world war. On June 6th, 1942, Artie enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The Navy sent him to San Diego for basic training. He joined the crew of the USS California. This battleship fought in numerous engagements in the Pacific Theater. Artie remained on that ship for the duration of the war and saw action in the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was a part of California's crew when Kamakazi pilots attacked it late in the war. Artie was a war hero; we owe our freedom to him and his generation of patriots.
After the war, Artie finished college and earned a degree in civil engineering. After that, he worked for Lederle Labs for 36 years. After hours and on weekends, he and his dad, a gifted carpenter, built Art's new home on Dogwood Lane, where he would live the rest of his life.
Artie was a simple man. He loved to play golf and work in his yard, and he was able to do both into his 90s. Impeccably honest, Art once went to the local police station to turn himself in for running a red light! I'm sure the stunned police officer who took his "confession" is still telling the story.
On April 22nd, Art's long life on earth ended. His niece, Kathy Bertolino, made sure that his final years were comfortable and that he received the best medical care possible. A cadre of Irish nurses came to Artie's home to care for him and ended up falling in love with an elderly man whose kindness and good nature were irrepressible.
The story of this great man is part of the story of the Clarkstown Reformed Church, too. We stand on the shoulders of giants. He is one of them.
We will miss him!
Listen to the April 27th episode of "Faith Unscripted" as Pastor Rich talks about the life and legacy of Art Erikson.