While his full name was Edward Donald Erickson, by Swedish tradition, males were called by their middle name; and “Donald” was shortened to "Don."
Born: Thursday, August 29, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois
Died: Tuesday, October 24, 2006, in Barrington, Illinois
Don’s Mother: Ebba Linnea Erickson, nee: Ebba Linnea Larson (Tuesday, January 14, 1902-Friday, August 27, 1869) immigrated from Ölmstad, Sweden in 1923. Ebba worked for the Emil J. Brach and Sons family as a personal maid to Mrs. Brach, prior to Ebba Linnea Larson's marriage to Eric Gunnar Erickson. Ebba Linnea Erickson, died on Friday, August 27, 1969, and is interred at Mt. Emblem Cemetery.
Don’s Father: Eric Gunnar Erickson (Saturday, April 9, 1904-Saturday, February 1, 1986) came to the United States from Sweden during 1922. He was followed by three other brothers, Martin Erickson, Frits Herbert Erickson, and Gottfried Erickson, and two Sisters, Signey Erickson and Regina Erickson. All of Gunnar's siblings also settled in Chicago. Eric Gunnar Erickson, Don's father, died on Saturday, February 1, 1986 and is buried next to Ebba Linnea Erickson, his wife, at Mt. Emblem Cemetery.
Eric Gunnar Erickson's parents were: Anna Lisa Erickson, nee: Anna Lisa Danielson and Eric Erickson. Anna Lisa Erickson died on Friday, June 17, 1932 at their home on 3041 N. Natchez Street in Chicago and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery. Eric Erickson died earlier in Sweden.
Eric Gunnar Erickson worked as a cabinet marker for a firm that made pin-ball machines in Chicago and at a barrel factory making staves. Having only a grade school education, Eric Gunnar Erickson decided to secure his high school degree; he worked during the day and went to high school at night until he graduated. Eventually, Eric Gunnar Erickson established his own business, building kitchen cabinets for private residences.
Eventually, the family moved to Elmwood Park, Illinois where Eric Gunnar Erickson established his own firm which specialized in the design of free-standing spiral wood staircases which he hand-built for custom-homes in the Chicago area.
In 1940, Ebba Linnea Erickson was naturalized as a U.S. citizen; presumably, Eric Gunnar Erickson was naturalized at nearly the same time. At the time of Ebba Linnea Erickson's naturalization, the family was living in Elmwood Park, Illinois.
Eric Gunnar Erickson had career aspirations for his son Don; he strongly encouraged Don to become an architect and was successful at convincing his son to go into the profession. After graduating from high school, Don took the entrance exams, applied for, and was accepted into, the school of architecture at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Fascinated by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, after a year at University of Illinois at Navy Pier, Don applied to Frank Lloyd Wright and was accepted as a student at Wright’s Taliesin West in Arizona. Don studied with Wright at Taliesin West from 1948 through 1951.
While at Taliesin West, Don Erickson met his first wife, Shirley Mae Erickson, nee: Shirley Mae Dahlke from Princeton, Wisconsin, and they married on Saturday, December 13, 1952 at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Princeton, Wisconsin.
In October 1970, Don and Shirley divorced after eighteen-years of marriage.
In 1970, after having taught interior design at the Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, Don met Sharon Ann Erickson, nee:Sharon Ann Dam, a communications student at the university, who was a friend of one of Don's interior design students. Don and Sharon were later married in Jamaica about 1972. They had one child together, Shay Erickson, who was born in January 1977. After about twelve years of marriage, Sharon and Don obtained a divorce sometime around 1984.
Don met Patricia Ann Mors, nee: Patricia Ann Lusk through her husband, Dr. Wayne A. Mors, an orthodontist in McHenry, Illinois. Long after Patricia's separation from her husband, Patricia and Don announced their intention to marry, holding a reception in December 1989 to formalize their intention. They were married on Patricia's birthday in June 1994.
In mid-1992, while supervising the re-roofing of his home; Don fell from the roof and broke his back; this accident lead to his eventual diagnosis, in 1993, of a terminal cancer called Multiple myeloma. Don was one of the one-percent of patients diagnosed with Multiple myeloma to live more than ten years after diagnosis.
Chicago Tribune, Thursday, October 26, 2006, page
Don Erickson, architect, 77, of Barrington, Illinois, at rest Tuesday, October 24, 2006, beloved husband of Patricia Erickson, nee: Patricia Ann Lusk; devoted father of Karyn Erickson, Don Erickson-2, and Shay Erickson; loving son of the late Eric Gunnar Erickson and Ebba Linnea Erickson, nee: Ebba Linnea Larson. Memorial ceremony by friends and family Saturday, 7:00 p.m., with visitation from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Erickson residence, 26280 W. Hwy. 22 in Barrington, Illinois. Interment 10:00 a.m., Sunday, at White Cemetery in Barrington, Illinois. Memorials may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation at www.multiplemyeloma.org or 203-972-1250. For information, Davenport Family Funeral Home, 847-381-3411.
Chicago Tribune, Friday, October 27, 2006, page 2C.14
Don Erickson: 1929 - 2006 ; Architect designed Indian Lakes resort:
"Every building is a unique piece of art," said his wife, Patricia Erickson, nee: Patricia Ann Lusk, citing a building she and her husband called the Birdcage Apartments near Ridge Boulevard and Pratt Boulevard on the Far North Side of Chicago.
"The Birdcage Apartments inspired me to become an architect," said Mettawa, Illinois architect Thomas Heinz. He said Don Erickson's design incorporates thin vertical black metal elements reminiscent of bird cage wires against a creamy rough stone structure.
Perhaps Don Erickson's best-known design is Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois completed in the 1980s. To avoid the boxy look and long corridors of many hotels, he designed a pyramid shape with hexagonal rooms and interior spaces and a six-story atrium lobby.
Don Erickson grew up around Chicago. His father built staircases and his mother was a classical pianist, and he was torn between music and architecture.
He was drawn to Frank Lloyd Wright after seeing some of the architect's buildings near his home in Portage Park. His father gave him a book of Frank Lloyd Wright's work, which prompted him to pursue architecture at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, where he began in 1948 after graduating from Proviso East High School. As the story goes, he told a he told a professor that an assignment was "not the way Frank Lloyd Wright would do it." The professor responded by telling Don Erickson that if he liked Frank Lloyd Wright so much, he should go study with him.
Don Erickson was initially turned away from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin studio in Wisconsin and drove to a pay phone and called the studio. Frank Lloyd Wright answered and agreed to take him on as an apprentice if he would go to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Arizona. Don Erickson was with Frank Lloyd Wright for three years, splitting time between Arizona and Wisconsin until he started his own practice in 1951.
"Don Erickson considered Frank Lloyd Wright a second father," his wife said. "It was a very powerful time in his life." Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have put his arm on Don Erickson's shoulder while telling him the world had enough musicians and what it needed was good architects.
By 1952, Don Erickson was building his first house, for his parents, in Inverness, Illinois. In December of that year, he married his first wife, Shirley Mae Erickson. She said that instead of a honeymoon in Mexico, the couple spent two weeks driving icy roads to look at Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.
The couple soon built a house for themselves near Palatine, Illinois. By 1966 they had a house on 10 acres on the north side of Barrington, Illinois and lived there with their three children. A tornado in April 1967 destroyed the home, but Don Erickson rebuilt on the foundation and lived there the rest of his life.
Don Erickson spent some time in the 1970s helping to establish a design program at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. While there he met and married his second wife, Sharon Ann Erickson, nee: Sharon Ann Dam. They later divorced.
Patricia Erickson, nee: Patricia Ann Lusk, renewed an acquaintance with Don Erickson in 1989 when she asked if she could be an unpaid summer intern in his office as part of her course work in interior design at Arizona State University. She said the experience featured a great deal of work. They were married six months later on her Christmas break, before she went back to finish work on her degree.
"We were beautiful together as a team," she said. Their collaboration won a recent Sub-Zero Kitchen Design Award as well as an award for an addition at what is now Fifth Third Bank in Wauconda, Illinois. "He lived and breathed architecture," she said. "He was still working up until last week."
"He stood up for what's right and true," Thomas Heinz said. "You can see that in his buildings--honest buildings from an honest man."