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UMW student remembered for his voice, love of outdoors

When the University of Mary Washington’s a capella group “One Note Stand” takes the stage on Wednesday, their performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers won’t have a solo.

That’s because the campus lost Robert “Bob” Ericson, the student who chose that song as his concert piece, over the weekend.

But “One Note Stand” is going to perform the selection as scheduled, in memory of Ericson, 22, whose voice sang out with the group for four years, whose “voice made our hearts happy,” said dean of student life Cedric Rucker.

“Bob was the heart of ‘One Note Stand,’” said group president and friend Regina Weiss. “He was so wise. Whenever we discussed something, he would raise his hand, speak eloquently and clearly. He was usually right. We always took his advice.”

Wednesday’s concert is one of the many ways UMW students have chosen to remember Ericson, who passed away Friday in his University Apartments dorm room from epilepsy complications.

University police were on the scene by 4:44 p.m., along with Fredericksburg police and fire and rescue personnel, after receiving a call from a 911 dispatcher at 4:41 p.m.

The agencies attempted to resuscitate Ericson but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It’s a tragic thing,” said Michael Hall, chief of UMW police. “To lose someone at Easter time, just before he would have graduated.”

Ericson was known on the UMW campus as a kind student who loved the outdoors, rowing and singing, and for his effervescent smile.

He was a senior environmental science major and would have graduated May 10.

Ericson was a leader on UMW’s crew team and volunteered with outreach activities.

In the last few weeks, he was part of the school’s Relay for Life and Good Neighbor Day.

“Bob is an exemplary student,” Rucker said. “He was special. And because he was here, he made UMW special.”

To remember Ericson, students at UMW will be holding two memorial events Wednesday. At 4 p.m., the community will gather on Ball Circle to release balloons in his memory.

Students will write notes, which will then be attached to the balloons. After a brief moment of silence, students will release the balloons.

Then, at 8:30 p.m., the “One Note Stand” concert in his memory will take place at Dodd Auditorium.

The group is also selling “Blue Bows for Bob” small ribbons for 50 cents, beginning Monday and continuing through Wednesday. Every dollar collected from now until the concert will go toward the “Robert (Bob) Ericson UMW Memorial Fund,” which was created Monday.

Tickets costing $1, the bows and baked goods will be sold in the Eagle’s Nest on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday at the same time outside of Lee Hall to benefit a memorial fund in his name as well.

Weiss said students have already begun sporting the blue ribbons around campus.

“This is a really sad time, but we want this to be an uplifting thing we are doing for Bob,” Weiss said.

UMW is also sending two buses to Ericson’s funeral on Friday in Burke, so students can attend.

Services will begin 11 a.m. Buses for students have been arranged to leave from the Anderson Center at 9:30 a.m., with boarding beginning at 9 a.m.

To offer support to students and friends of Ericson, the university’s Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will be available for support during its regular hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week.

According to his obituary, “his love of the outdoors began in the creeks and trails of Virginia and followed him cross-country on family camping trips.”

Even before attending UMW, Ericson was involved in his community as Eagle Scout, football player and member of crew at W.T. Woodson High School.

He is survived by father Robin, mother Rebecca, brothers Jonathan, David and Douglas, grandmother Marjorie Cochrane, seven nephews, a niece and a large extended family.

A public viewing will be held Thursday, April 24, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Community Covenant Church, 7018 Sydenstricker Road, Springfield, Va., where he was a member, with services on Friday, April 25, at 11 a.m. at Abiding Presence Lutheran Church, 6304 Lee Chapel Rd, Burke, Va. A reception will follow in Bob’s Picnic Grove at Community Covenant at 1 p.m.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976