For many years, when Steve and Nancy Erickson were out in public, they couldn’t avoid running into someone who knew Nancy. As a music teacher at Erskine Elementary, she met and inspired hundreds of children over the years.
But when Nancy was 58, she was diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer’s that would eventually force her to quit teaching. Six years after the diagnosis, in December 2018, Nancy passed away.
When Steve and his three sons began looking for ways to honor Nancy, a memorial fund seemed like the obvious choice. “Steve and his sons came to the Community Foundation looking for a way to continue Nancy’s legacy,” said Michelle Beisker, Senior Vice President of Development. “By establishing the Nancy L. Erickson Music Education Fund, her name will live on in a way that celebrates her life’s passions.”
The goal of the fund comes directly from Nancy’s life work. “This fund will exclusively support music education,” Steve said. “It’s what Nancy was always passionate about, and I think she would be proud to see that work continuing.”
Music has always been a central part of the Erickson family. Nancy was studying music when she met Steve at Drake University in 1973, and when they moved to Cedar Rapids in 1986, she joined the choir at First Congregation Church. She was often asked to sing for weddings and gave her sons piano lessons. “She was a teacher even when she was at home,” Steve said.
Steve and his sons worked with the Community Foundation to establish the memorial fund, and as a testament to Nancy’s role in the community, support grew well beyond the Erickson family. Gifts from relatives, friends, colleagues and former students transformed the memorial into a sizeable fund in a few short months.
The memorial is a donor-advised fund, allowing the Erickson family to choose projects and organizations they feel exemplify Nancy’s values and passions. It is also an endowed fund, which means it will continue to make grants in Nancy’s name forever.
“My sons and I will decide where to grant the money each year,” Steve said. The family looks forward to learning about and supporting local music education efforts. “People used to tell Nancy that they pursued music because of her,” Steve said. “I hope this fund can continue to provide that opportunity for young people. It was Nancy’s greatest joy.”