Eric Olav Taffs of Helena, Montana died peacefully in the company of his wife Linda on the evening of November 9, 2017, at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.
Eric was born on November 8, 1945 in Aurora, Illinois, the third child and first son of Olav Frithjoff and Helen Marie (Ratagick) Taffs. He attended schools in Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin and graduated from Racine-Kenosha Teachers College in Union Grove Wisconsin. After marrying the late Sara Jean VanDerVere in Detroit Michigan in 1965, the couple lived in Racine Wisconsin where they had a son, Eric Brian, and a daughter, Helen Rose. Eric Sr. and Sara Jean were together for more than 42 years until her passing in 2007.
The family moved to Montana in 1972 and lived in Helena, where Eric worked at the State Film Library, various construction jobs, and SuperAmerica until moving to Vaughn in 1976, Havre in 1977, and then settling back in Helena in late 1977. He managed SuperAmerica stores from 1976 until 1981. He subsequently worked for the Al and Buzz Rose garage before finally opening his own business, Eric’s Auto Repair, around 1983.
Though he left too soon, he lived long enough to see his children grow up and prosper in their own families; he lived long enough to see his grandson graduate from high school into college; and he lived long enough to find love for a second time: In 2011 he married his dear friend Linda Crawford in Las Vegas.
Eric had an adventurous spirit, and was not afraid to take a risk or to try something new. He first set out to make his own way in life at the age of nine, carrying nothing but the clothes he was wearing and a few sandwiches, and even though he only made it as far as the train station before he was spotted by the station master and sent home, his direction in life was affirmed, even at that early age, as a journey of discovery, independence and freedom. He was inventive and original – he built his first “motorcycle” by combining a bicycle and a lawnmower engine – but he was also wise, compassionate, humorous, strong, ethical, and smart. He was the kind of person who often put his own concerns aside when he perceived that others needed help.
Eric is survived by his wife Linda and his son Eric Brian (Penny Warren) of Helena and his daughter Helen Rose (Tom McCommon) of East Helena and his grandson Nicholas. He is also survived by two brothers, Sven (Laura) of Helena and Hans of Elcho, Wisconsin; four sisters, Merry of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Annie of Cincinnati, Ohio, Margaret of Zephyrhills, Florida, and Karen of Madison, Wisconsin. His first wife Sara and his youngest brother Rolf both preceded him in death in 2007.
The family invites all of Eric’s friends to attend a celebration of Eric’s life, to be held at 10:30 am on December 17 at Jorgenson’s Restaurant.