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Francisca Winston Erickson ’45

Francisca grew up in in Minneapolis. Her father died when she was five, but had established generous trust funds for his children. Her stepfather was acquainted with some of Reed’s founding trustees and encouraged her to attend the college. At the time, Francisca said, it was one of the few institutions that took seriously women wanting to major in chemistry or math. Reed became her intellectual and academic home, where she was treated with respect. The war made the experience unusual; she had to accelerate her studies and the men gradually disappeared from campus. Her thesis, The Preparation and Oxidation of i-Cholesteryl-Oxyacetic and i-Cholesteryloxy-p-Benzoic Acids, was written with Prof. Leland Pence [chemistry 1939‑45] advising. The sole woman in her graduating chemistry class, she completed her degree in three years while gaining an abiding affection for her alma mater.

While working for Shell Oil Company, Francisca met her husband, O. Alfred Erickson, who was from Sweden. Company policy forbade spouses from working together, so she retired to raise a family. Francisca loved to fish, travel, and attend opera. She generously supported Reed and in 2002 established the Francisca W. Erickson Scholarship, awarded to Reed science majors with financial need with preference to chemistry majors. Her three children, Paul, John, and Francisca Ferro, survive her. 

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2016

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