Thursday, August 28, 2014

In Memoriam: Eric Olson

by Drew Martin
The Latin phrase in memoriam means into memory, and so, with this post I want to fondly remember someone I knew who was immensely full of life but is no longer alive.

My friend Eric Olson had a fatal heart attack this past Sunday. He was only 45, and is survived by his lovely wife and fraternal twin sons who are 14 years old. I met Eric through our sons' soccer team and looked forward to seeing him every weekend on the side of the pitch during the season for the past three years. We weren't very close friends but Eric had such a fun personality you always felt like a welcomed buddy in his presence.

One of my fondest memories of Eric was his redneck guise. He was very financially successful with a career he built up in life insurance, and had a beautiful home in a town we both lived for the past 15+ years but he often drove around in an old pickup truck while wearing one of his caps with a mullet wig. Sometimes he would grab a friend, cruise around, pull up to a fancy open house, and stride right in; to the horror of real estate agents and home sellers. This is pure performance art so I asked Eric if he would one day escort me to an art opening with this get-up. We never got a chance but he was totally game.

Eric's obituary acknowledged several charities with which he was involved, including SAY (Stuttering Association for the Young). I laughed to myself when I saw that because it was only then that I actually realized Eric had a stutter. I never consciously thought about it because it just got absorbed into Eric's friendly manner and joviality. In a post about the MIT Museum, I tell about an a not-so-friendly encounter with two cops in an SUV. When I told Eric, who was from Vermont/New Jersey but went to Boston College, this story right after the trip he let out a roaring laugh and said, "What Massholes!" (Massachusetts assholes). He had such a fun laugh. It was a therapeutic laugh that embraced you and made you laugh along with him.

Pictured here is probably my only picture of me (right) with Eric (left). It was taken with phone of my neighbor (middle) at an end of a soccer season party. We are in Eric's kitchen wearing the redneck hats and wigs he put on our heads for laughs.