WVWC mourns passing of Erickson

Had it not been for the Erickson Foundation, West Virginia Wesleyan College would not have its notable Erickson Alumni Center, a home that welcomes hundreds of alumni back to their home among the hills each year. Charles “Charlie” F. Erickson, president of the foundation that built alumni centers at 13 private and public universities and colleges in the state, passed away July 4 at the age of 81.

Throughout his life, Erickson focused his eyes forward toward success. According to a plaque that hung in his Parkersburg-based office, he believed that, “success only comes before work in the dictionary.” A resident of Mineral Wells, Erickson was the president of COE, Inc., a company with interests in land development, real estate and investment activities.

Erickson’s accolades are plentiful. Before COE, Inc., Erickson was recognized as a pioneer in the cable television realm, as he founded Durfee’s TV Cable Co. in 1959. He also served as the mayor of Man, located in Logan County, for six years. Erickson also won the district Soil Conservations Service’s 1989 Conservation Farm award for his owner and operatorship of two farms in Wirt County.

In 2005, he was named Mountaineer of the Year. He was also inducted into the Order of the Vandalia, West Virginia University’s highest honor, in 2011. His most recent accolade came in the form of an honorary doctorate of humanities degree from Concord University in 2013.

Erickson began his stewardship to public education after his retirement in 1981, a stewardship built by brick and mortar that can be seen throughout West Virginia. He financed construction and expansion of alumni centers at 13 institutions of higher learning across the state, including the Erickson Alumni Center on Wesleyan’s campus.

According to an interview with Erickson, his philanthropy never funded the entire project, but rather planted a generous seed to spark the giving of others. That philosophy worked, as his over $3 million contributions were matched by over $10 million in additional construction. It was a $200,000 donation by Erickson in 1991 that began the renovation of the 1980 Victorian home on Meade Street to become Wesleyan’s Erickson Alumni Center.

Erickson is survived by his wife, Laurie; two sons, Charles II of Washington, N.C., and Brandon of Boca Raton, Fla.; one grandson; two sisters and several nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 at the Leavitt Funeral Home in Parkersburg. Services will be Friday, July 12 at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church with the Reverend W. Douglas Hood from his church in Florida and Reverend Michael Seely.

Burial will follow at Parkersburg Memorial Gardens with military rites by the American Legion Post 15.

The family requests donations be made to The Erickson Foundation, 400 Market Street, Parkersburg, WV, 26101 or any college or university of your choice.