Dr. David E. Eriksen, a prominent eye surgeon and one-time chief of ophthalmology at what is now Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, died Dec. 26 at Hospice of Northwest Ohio of complications from a blood cancer. He was 80.
“He was the most charming man I ever met,” his second wife, Mary Krill-Eriksen, a retired speech pathologist, said.
Dr. Eriksen was a role model to many people because he was “just enthusiastic about living,” she said.
The couple had a relatively short marriage, less than five years, but did a lot of traveling across the country and overseas. The two were introduced at a restaurant about a year earlier by friends after both had lost their first spouses to death.
Mrs. Krill-Eriksen said she was attracted to Dr. Eriksen by his keen sense of humor, his zest for life, his intelligence, and his love of family.
“He just loved people. He was a good man,” she said.
A son from Mr. Eriksen’s first marriage, Hans Eriksen, described his father as a “warm, approachable man who liked professional work.”
“He knew he’d be a doctor from a young age. He was obsessed with helping people. He thought the eye was an incredible mechanism,” Hans Eriksen said. “He was a man’s man.”
He said his father loved the Maumee River, especially views from the home where he and his first wife, Susan Eriksen, raised their family along River Road. He and Susan Eriksen were married in 1962 until her death in 2012.
“He was home for dinner every night regardless what was going on,” Hans Eriksen said. “I can’t express how much of a joy he was as a father to us.”
One of Dr. Eriksen’s daughters, Heidi Bleyer, a sister of Hans Eriksen, said she was impressed by her father’s “big sense of adventure,” whether he was driving his children around looking at unusual wintry sights during the Blizzard of ‘78 or taking cover with them behind a picnic table he turned on its side to watch thunderstorms roll in at the family cottage along Lake Erie near Catawba Island.
Dr. Eriksen, a standout football player for Maumee High School, loved golfing, cribbage, bridge, and other card games. But he also loved snorkeling, sailing, hiking, jogging, fishing, kayaking, cooking, classical music, reading, and cross-country skiing. He was a longtime member of the Toledo Country Club.
“By far his biggest love was the water, both the Maumee River and Lake Erie,” Ms. Bleyer said.
She said other kids in the neighborhood used to wait for the cue from the Eriksen family each winter before venturing out onto the frozen Maumee River. Families knew Dr. Eriksen used an auger to cut through ice and measure its thickness for safety. Once the river was frozen solid enough to skate on, they played ice hockey, Ms. Bleyer said.
“He was always a busy man, yet he never seemed stressed,” she said. “I think he just enjoyed being busy.”
Born Feb. 2, 1937, in Maumee, Dr. Eriksen graduated from Maumee High School and Denison College. He went on to Ohio State University Medical College, where he graduated with honors, then spent more than 50 years in the Toledo area as an ophthalmologist.
As a doctor, he provided services to every area hospital, and maintained his own practice. He was an Army veteran who volunteered at the Veterans Affairs Clinic throughout his lifetime.
Survivors include his second wife, Mary Krill-Eriksen; sons, Hans and Leif Eriksen; daughters, Kirsten Homberger and Heidi Bleyer; stepdaughters, Gina Carter, Michelle Mars, and Helen Nichols; seven grandchildren, and 12 step-grandshildren.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for noon Thursday at Gesu Church. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 S. Reynolds Rd. The family requests tributes to Mercy Autism Services or Court Appointed Special Advocates.
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