Debbie Erickson was the matriarch of her large family, and gave her children and grandchildren unwavering support, perspective and motivation, said Bob Erickson, her husband of 61 years.
She is survived by their five children and 12 grandchildren.
“(She) wore many hats during her amazing life, including daughter, sister, student, friend, swim coach and nurse,” he said.
Deborah “Debbie” Erickson, 81, of Crown Point and formerly of Gary, died April 1. She was a 1950 graduate of Horace Mann High School and earned degrees from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri and Indiana University. She worked as a nurse at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
She didn’t begin studying nursing until her youngest child was in school, said her daughter, Bridget Dudash. She spent her entire career at St. Anthony’s, where she was always committed to excellent patient care.
“She was naturally intelligent and persistent, but authentically empathetic and caring,” Dudash said. “These characteristics made her an outstanding RN and nursing manager.”
Daughter Tess Weaver said she had an amazing sense of style, with her home being a collection of art, family history and photographs.
During the summers, she would load up her kids, dogs and cats and take them from Gary to the family cottage in Wisconsin. The cottage was on Lower Long Lake, where she and her husband Bob had met and courted during their college romance, said her son, Bob Erickson, Jr.
As her health declined in recent years, she maintained a tough attitude and was always reaching out to her children with love and concern, said daughter Kris Christoph.
Daughter Merit Lemke said her mother impacted innumerable lives.
“Whether it was swimming, basketball or her children and grandchildren’s activities, (she) was always a presence,” she said.