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Wallace Edward Erickson, 92, of Salinas, passed away Thursday, October 25, 2012, at home. He was born August 19, 1920, in Wickliffe, OH.
Wallace served in the United States Army Air Corp, World War II, with a Medical Discharge 1943. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High Class of 1938, attended Hillsdale College and graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1945. He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. Wallace married his childhood sweetheart, Jean Florence Baumgartner, on September 9, 1949.
Wally got his first teaching and coaching job in Calexico in August 1949. In 1951, Wally and Jean moved to the Salinas Valley after visiting life long friends Ted and Doris Gilpin of Monterey. Wally initially taught and coached at Sherwood School and Jean worked in the Salinas Public Library which was located on Main Street at that time. Wally taught and coached at El Sausal Jr. High from 1952 to 1961 and 1969 to 1983 and was a teacher and coach at Washington Jr. High School from 1961 to 1969. While teaching at El Sausal, Wally implemented a performance based fitness and testing program in conjunction with Robert F. Kennedy's focus on the physical fitness of American Youth in the early 60's. Both Salinas Jr. High schools at the time implemented what was to become known as the Colored Shorts Fitness Program which benefited the youth of Salinas for many years. During his coaching years in Salinas, Wally was a member of the Coast Counties Officials Association and was a referee of High School basketball and football up until his retirement in 1983. Wally was also a member of the California Teachers Association.
Above all Wally was a great friend to his many colleagues and students over the years and took great pride in his three sons. He raised them as leaders rather than followers regardless of the difficulties that breaking new ground could entail. He was a highly moral and ethical man who set the bar high and always led by example. He was part of a generation that lived through the depression and a World War and he came away with a desire to give back through teaching and mentoring young people. He was the supreme family man, loved by his wife, three sons, and his grandchildren, and while he will be deeply missed, he will remain in their hearts always.
Survivors: Wife of 63 years, Jean Florence Baumgartner Erickson; sons, James R. Erickson of Greenville, SC, Jon Edward Erickson of Fresno, and Jeffrey Donn Erickson of Vacaville; brother, Wayne Erickson of Novelty, OH; eight grandchildren, Jeni, Erin, Kaci, Natalie, Katy, Ben, Andrew, and Elise; nephew Wayne; and niece, Kristen.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Gustaf and Esther Erickson; and brother, Wilton Erickson, U.S. Army Air Corp. P-38 Fighter Pilot, killed in action in World War II on June 1944.
Memorial service at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1071 Pajaro St., Salinas. Reception to follow at 2 p.m. in the Church Fellowship Hall.
Donations can be made in his memory to the Wallace E Erickson Memorial Fund, Hillsdale College, 33 E. College St., Hillsdale, MI 49242.
Published in The Salinas Californian from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20, 2012