Charles F. Erickson dies in Florida

PARKERSBURG – A man known for his philanthropy here and across West Virginia died in Florida on Thursday.

Charles F. Erickson, 81, headed the Erickson Foundation, based in Parkersburg, and was behind many of the new alumni centers at colleges and universities throughout West Virginia.

“We were just talking about him last night at dinner,” said Holmes R. “Butch” Shaver, a real estate agent, former county commissioner and longtime friend of Erickson’s.

Much of what Erickson did was behind the scenes, Shaver said.

“Charles did so many things, not just for Parkersburg and Wood County, but for the state of West Virginia and other states,” Shaver said.

He was an early supporter of development zones, including the land near Erickson Field on the Little Kanawha River, Shaver said. Erickson donated the land in south Parkersburg where the Erickson All Sports Facility was constructed and started a renaissance of downtown Parkersburg, Shaver said.

“Even though he lived in (Delray Beach) Florida, he still loved Parkersburg,” Shaver said.

The Erickson Foundation donated the W.T. Grant building on Market Street to West Virginia University at Parkersburg where its new downtown campus and culinary school are located. The foundation also donated a lot at Seventh and Juliana streets to the school for a parking lot.

“He was so philanthropic and never wanted any press for it, and those are the good guys,” Shaver said.

A visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Boynton Memorial Chapel at 800 W. Boynton Beach Blvd. in Boynton Beach, Fla. Erickson will be buried at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery in Parkersburg.

“He was a man who was larger than life,” said Kathy Eddy of McDonough, Eddy, Parsons and Baylous, a Parkersburg accounting firm.

Erickson was a client of the firm for more than 40 years and a friend, she said.

“Today we lost a wonderful man and loyal Mountaineer. Charles Erickson loved WVU and he and his family were longtime supporters of our alma mater. As you may know, our beautiful alumni home bears the Erickson name, as do numerous alumni centers throughout the state,” Steve Douglas, president and CEO of the West Virginia University Alumni Association, said.

“He and his family appreciated the work that we do and he was a constant cheerleader of those efforts. And he was one of the kindest, sweetest people you will ever meet. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Laurie and the rest of his family. RIP Charles; you are forever a Mountaineer.”

Erickson, a native of Logan County, was the son of the late C.O. Erickson. Erickson went into business with his father after the Army and together they built Durfees Cable Co. into the largest cable operation in West Virginia, which was sold to Tele-Communications Inc.

Erickson later built cable systems in Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan and became president of broadcast and cable associations.

After his father died, since 1993 Erickson headed the Erickson Foundation and has been involved in establishing 13 Erickson Alumni Centers around the state, including WVU, Marshall University and Concord University.

He received the Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer award in 2005.

Erickson graduated from Greenbrier Military School and attended WVU before joining the Army and serving two years in Germany.

The Erickson Foundation was established after his father died in 1993. He promised his father the foundation would focus alumni centers on West Virginia colleges and university campuses. Thirteen Erickson alumni centers have been established in West Virginia.

Erickson in May 2011 was inducted into the Order of Vandalia, WVU’s highest honor. In 2005 he was named Mountaineer of the Year and in May received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Concord University.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie; two sons, Charles II (Lynn) of Washington, N.C., and Brandon of Boca Raton, Fla.; a grandson, Chase; two sisters, Donna Tulley of Savannah, Ga., and Myra Scott (Lee) of Chapel Hill, N.C.

The family requests donations be made to the Erickson Foundation, 400 Market St., Parkersburg, WV 26101, or any college or university.