While exercising his "new knees" with a bicycle ride on Johnson Ranch Trail in San Luis Obispo, Eric suffered a heart attack. The heart attack caused him to crash, sustaining further fatal injuries.
While none of our lives will be the same without him, we are all so very grateful that he didn't suffer and that he died doing something he loved in such beautiful surroundings.
Throughout his lifetime, he left a lasting impression with EVERYONE he met. Not only was he the funniest man on the planet, his heart was as big as the ocean he dearly loved. He became a Christian when he was 18 and spent the following 40 years sharing the love and compassion he had in his heart.
Growing up, he was my idol. He was completely fearless. He spoke his mind and stood up for what he believed in without wavering. Eric was not afraid to try anything, go anywhere or befriend anyone he met on the street. I truly admired his free spirit and his passionate desire to live life to the fullest. He always ran full speed ahead! The only things that slowed him down were the injuries that he suffered along the way. Eventually, some of those injuries led to having to have both knees replaced. Even then, he took his therapy very seriously, excited to do the things that had become too painful to do.
My dear brother had, as all of have, his struggles in this world. I couldn't be more proud of him for taking the steps that led to his recovery. Just two months ago, in September, he took his five year chip as a clean, sober and grateful member of Alcoholic's Anonymous.
I'm sharing this with you because he would have wanted me to tell the world his story. The last five years of his life were the absolute best years for him. He became the husband, brother, uncle, cousin, grandpa and friend that made eyes and hearts light up with love and admiration.
Eric knew the value of his gift of sobriety and the men and women who had helped him along the way. He shared that gift with others, as it had been freely shared with him. In fact, Eric had decided to become a drug and alcohol counselor and had just finished class prior to taking his last bike ride He died with that 5 year chip in his pocket... clean, sober and with an incredible love for, and faith in, our Heavenly Father.
Eric's beautiful wife, Nicole is just devastated but is making her way through the pain and grief, one step at a time, with the love and encouragement of so many great friends and family members. She is truly an amazing woman and has such great faith! Nicole is finding so many reasons to be grateful... for the time she had with Eric, that he didn't have to suffer in his passing, for the love so many have shown and that God is carrying her through every moment of every day. I am so proud of her but my heart breaks for her at the same time. Nicole and Eric were so very much in love and were absolutely the best of friends. Anyone who knew her, knew her husband, as anyone who knew Eric, knew his wife, Nicole. They were one entity. Please keep her in your prayers... she has a long road ahead of her and will need even more support as the days get quieter and less distracting.
As I had mentioned previously, Eric had both of his knees replaced. Both surgeries were preformed this year, the last in May, so he hadn't been able to work for the greatest part of 2017. He was anxious to begin his new career to help regain their financial stability. With his precious life being cut short so unexpectedly, his dream never came to fruition.
After many conversations with Nicole, she finally agreed to allow me to ask for financial help on her behalf, with the stipulation that any donations in excess of her immediate funeral/celebration of life needs be donated to "Van Curaza Surf School" as a scholarship for children who are unable to afford the cost. I have been in contact with Van Curaza, a dear friend of Eric's, and he is excited to join in this tribute to my brother.
Please help me to help Nicole through this tragic time. Any amount that you are able to donate would be so greatly appreciated. While I am setting up this account, everything collected will go directly to Nicole, who will have full access to the funds.
Thank you so very much for your love, prayers and support.
With love and gratitude,
Stacy (McNeil) Fees
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