Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Eric Schoenfeld ’66

September 14, 2019, at his home in Haines, Oregon.

Eric grew up in Portland and attended Grant High School. He worked for the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol during the winter and as a smoke jumper with the U.S. Forest Service through the summer.

Jim Ronzio ’68 was his off-campus roommate during Eric’s two years at Reed.

“Eric was a great roommate,” Jim remembered. “He was never home on weekends. He was hiking, rock climbing, or skiing at Mt. Hood. He skied in ‘bear-trap’ bindings and supplied a weekend beer keg for his ski-patrol group, who skied at night with headlamps on unlighted slopes.”

Eric transferred to Portland State College from Reed because it would allow him an extra day each week to ski. Then he decided that he should really graduate from Reed and returned. In the end, skiing won out and he graduated from Portland State.

Faced with either being drafted into military service or emigrating to Canada, Eric joined the U.S. Air Force, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His first posting was to Blaine, Washington. Still the skier, whenever possible he would drive from Blaine to Mt. Hood. After finally trying out Whistler in British Columbia, he began skiing there.

Eric received orders for Vietnam, and was sent to Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, Florida, for six weeks of refresher training. While at Tyndall, Eric received new orders to report to a Royal Canadian Air Force base in Senneterre, Quebec, where he was posted as an air battle manager, working early warning radars to direct coalition aircraft towards hostile aircraft. After being mustered out, he returned to smoke jumping in Cave Junction, Oregon, in the summers and working at Anthony Lakes ski resort in the winters.

He and his wife, Jennifer, led sort of a nomadic life moving between ski patrol and smoke jumping assignments. They finally settled in Haines, Oregon. Eric switched from smoke jumping for the Forest Service to smoke jumping for the Bureau of Land Management out of Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. He continued to work ski patrol.

Though Eric and Jennifer had no children of their own, he was generous with his time and resources, helped other smoke jumper’s children with college tuition, and fully funded the college savings accounts of his great-nieces and great-nephews. He helped raise his niece, Amanda Ward, in whom he instilled a love of hiking, camping, fishing and self-sustainment.

B. Giles Larrabee ’66, who first met Eric at Reed, reconnected with him and the two visited each other in Cave Junction and Portland. They did one cross-country trip together from Portland to Panama City and corresponded for 50 years.

After years of medical problems, Jennifer died in the summer of 2019. She and Eric were both active in local Haines activities.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2020

comments powered by Disqus