David John Erickson, age 67, of Spring Green, WI, passed away on Monday, August 24, 2020 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, MN. Dave was born on April 28, 1953 in Racine, WI, to parents Irving and Betty (Nielsen) Erickson. He graduated from Rockford East High School in Rockford, IL and went on to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL where he earned his degree in Cinema and Photography.
Post-graduation, Dave began his career as a journalist at the Galena Gazette in Galena, Illinois. From there he moved onto Apple River, IL, where he acted as PR director at Eagle Valley Environmentalists and directed his first production – a PSA featuring actress Blair Brown. He continued writing freelance articles for various magazines, accumulating stories of famous names he got to interview during this time. He spent some years of his twenties tree planting across large swaths of the United States, living out of a truck camper with his cat, Alice. In 1983, he worked in PR again, this time at American Players Theatre during the first few years of the theatre’s creation in Spring Green, WI. In the mid-1980’s, Dave worked at Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, WI, giving tours in the winery’s infancy. He and founder Bob Wollersheim worked together to celebrate the bald eagles that flew over the vineyard, starting an early version of Eagle Watching Days, serving wines named Eagle Red and Eagle White, and beginning ongoing bald eagle fundraising that continues today.
In 1985, Dave began the most important part of his career and what would become his life’s passion: writing, producing, and directing documentary films from idea, to the page, to the screen. Under his company Ootek Productions, he became a prolific and well-known documentary filmmaker, producing 40 documentaries that blended ecology, conservation, history, and human experience. He would regularly ask friends and family to perform in his ambitious reenactments set during countless times throughout history, engaging his community in both content and creation. His award-winning films were shown regularly on Wisconsin Public Television and at local film festivals.
A man devoted to both community and nature, Dave helped form the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council (FBEC) and Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW). He was on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the formation of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.
Dave broke much of the world into two pieces: nature and the natural world, and the world of humanity…art, literature, music, film, politics, and the environment. He never lost his curiosity or appetite for either pieces and inspired all around him to look closer, to learn, and to enjoy themselves. A man who loved his friends and family fiercely and with immense loyalty, Dave and his spirit will be sorely missed.
He will remain in the hearts of his children Maia Erickson and Kira (Andy) Erickson-Peterson; Maia and Kira’s mother Judy Smith; brother Tom Erickson and sister Susan Richardson; nieces Jill, Mary, Kate, Claire, and Meghan. His parents Irv and Betty precede him in death.
A private green burial took place at Circle Cemetery in Barneveld, WI on August 30.
A celebration of life will be held at a future date.
Memorials are preferred to the discretion of the family. Cards for Dave’s family can be mailed to: O’Connell Family Funeral Home, Care of David Erickson Family, 520 11th St. S, Hudson, WI 54016. The family deeply appreciates all thoughts & prayers extended to them during this time.