Eric Peter Verbeeck passed away suddenly on the morning of March 6, 2018. He was born in Tampa, Florida on April 14, 2000 and lovingly adopted by his surviving parents Peter D. Verbeeck and Patricia McKay Verbeeck. He is also survived by his brother Michael and his beloved dog, Rocky. He is also survived by his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Frances Pearson, uncle and aunt Dan and Barbara LeTourneau, aunt Peggy Pearson and many loving great-aunts, cousins and friends. Eric spent his life on Key Biscayne and attended the St. Christopher's Montessori School. He went on the to the MCA Academy for middle school and his junior and senior year where he was due to graduate on June 8, 2018 with honors.
Eric was passionate about the performing arts and loved to sing, act and dance. He performed for seven years from the age of six with Miss Angelica Torres and the Broadway Musical Theater Group. His favorite role was The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. There was nothing that Eric enjoyed more than being onstage and he loved every aspect of the theater. He also loved to attend Broadway and London musical theater shows, experimenting with new restaurants and regularly attended the Miami City Ballet with his mother. Eric was at his happiest being with people at parties, fund raisers and volunteering, especially at Rotary functions with his father. Another love of Eric's was traveling. He loved to plan out trips to the tiniest detail and anticipated his planned trips with great excitement. He also toured Europe and performed with Mr. Timothy Sharp and the Miami Children's Chorus. He relished horseback riding and a great memory for him was horseback riding in Iceland in the tundra with his mother. Eric and his father volunteered to make and provide pure water filtration systems in a small village in the Dominican Republic. Eric was a true "foodie" and heartily enjoyed trying out restaurants everywhere he went. He would order several appetizers and desserts just to experiment with the food experience. Lobster bisque and Shirley Temples were at the top of the list. Fine dining was the way to go for him and his manners were impeccable. Eric, simply put, was pure love and joy with a unique innocence about life. He was caring, sharing, empathetic, and sympathetic to those in need, loved animals, nature and school. He could always sense when someone needed an encouraging word, genuine compliment or just to say hello. His time at the family summer home on a lake in Maine was a continual family reunion in a totally different world from Miami.
He would run his motor boat around the lake, go tubing and kneeboarding and race around with his powerful four-wheel bright red ATV. He was the family "grillmaster" and proud of his culinary accomplishments. Roasting marshmallows for s'mores was a tradition. Yellow was Eric's favorite color, and how appropriate, as it represents sunshine and happiness. From infancy he carried around a small stuffed giraffe, which he still had on his bed, whom he called "Raffie". Collecting giraffes was a hobby.
While Eric lived life to the fullest, he had his own personal struggle. He was in the process of transitioning to his identity as a girl. It simply became too much for him and he sought relief from his suffering. He left a beautiful letter letting his parents know that he knew he had been loved unconditionally, but he needed to move on. As an excellent student who worked very hard for his grades, he had a nearly perfect "A" record. He had received an honors award from The National Society of High School Scholars in 2016 and was a Special Ambassador for the Society. He was so proud of receiving his award from Claes Nobel from Sweden of the Nobel Peace Prize family at his investiture in Atlanta. Eric was active in The Student Council and the Character Counts Club at his school, MCA Academy. At the time of his passing he had been accepted by eleven of thirteen colleges as early acceptance with several scholarship offers. His goal was to major in Theatre and Arts Management with a focus on fund-raising and friend-raising.
In his letter, Eric gave instructions as how he wanted to be remembered. In his words, "I would like to be remembered as a transgender pansexual teenage girl named Hope. Being transgender is my gender identity. My sexual orientation, or sexual identity, is being pansexual, meaning that I do not care about what the person is; I care about who they are. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with and gender identity is who you go to bed as."
There is a time to give, and a time to receive. Eric gave so much of himself to everyone he met, he has now been received in the Kingdom of Heaven where he is at peace, free and experiencing happiness with no suffering.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held, 2 PM Saturday, March 17th, at the St. Agnes Catholic Auditorium, 100 Harbor Drive, Key Biscayne, FL 33149.. A reception will be held immediately following the service at Fairways on the Key, 6700 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, FL 33149 on the grounds of the Crandon Golf Course. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following causes that Eric cared about and was involved with in his life:
The Yes Institute, 5275 Sunset Drive, Miami, FL 33143; yesinstitute.org
The South Florida Veterinary Foundation, c/o Dr. Larry Bernstein, Treas., 751 NE 168th St., N. Miami Beach, FL 33162-2427;miamivetfoundation.org
The Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20036; www.hrc.org
Published by the Miami Herald on Mar. 13, 2018.