Last Thursday, I called my old friend Eric Bower to see if he was up to having lunch this week, and we made plans to meet. When I learned yesterday from our mutual friend Rich Freeman that Eric had gone back on chemotherapy, I called his wife Diane to see if he could still make lunch or if I could visit him.
Diane, told me though her sobs that Eric had died at that early that morning. Eric suffered with leukemia, and we all knew it was going to be a tough battle to win. But he sounded good last Wednesday.
Eric fought the culture of death the same way he fought his illness—without complaint but with all his strength of will.
Eric and I had known each other form the time he became involved in the pro-life movement back in the late 1970’s. Eric would come to nearly everything, and he especially liked to protest pro-abortion politicians. He seemed shy and soft spoken when you first met him, but on the battle front he was awesome.
Eric knew suffering early in his married life with the loss of a baby girl from SIDS. After the loss of their daughter, Eric and Diane became devoted leaders in the effort to save babies from this malady.
Last fall, when Eric was in the hospital preparing for a round of chemo, he invited eight of us, mostly fellow Knights of Columbus, to his hospital room. We talked over the old days, laughed a lot, and then prayed over Eric for a quick recovery.
Then Eric sent us to to an elegant club for dinner and entertainment, just out of the kindness of his heart. That’s the kind of man Eric was: He wanted others to be happy, and safe, and well. He wanted everyone to share the peace and joy he always seemed to have himself.
l always think of Eric with a big pro-life sign and an enormous smile. I always think of Eric as a warrior. He was the best.
Visitation for Eric Bower is 3-9 p.m. Friday, February 8 at Wenban Funeral Home, 320 Vine Avenue, Lake Forest (map). Funeral Mass is Saturday, February 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Church Saint Mary, 175 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest (map).