James Oscar Erickson was the youngest son born to Gus and Emma Erickson on March 2, 1953 in Laramie Wyoming. He died on November 21, 2017 in Salt Lake City, after a short battle with cancer. His high school sweetheart and wife of 43 years, Jana, was at his side every minute of his battle. His children; Thomas, Brian and Maya were also with him.
Oscar grew up on the west side of Laramie. He developed his story telling skills by sharing tales of growing up and the many predicaments of he and his friends. He developed a love of the outdoors through camping, hunting, fishing and building a cabin with his family. He and his Dad, brothers and nephews established the Platte River Gentlemen’s Club where they hunted together every fall.
He attended Laramie High School and was a talented athlete, quarterbacking the Laramie Plainsmen football team to 29 wins and 1 loss over his three years in high school. He also played basketball and was an outstanding track athlete, in the long and triple jumps and was on a state champion 4 x 4 relay.
He attended the University of Wyoming, earning his teaching degree in 1975 where he was recognized as the outstanding Physical Education major. He walked onto the UW track team as a freshman and during his tenure, consistently scored points in long and triple jumps as well as relay teams. He played baseball and softball into his thirties.
He was hired as a PE teacher for White Mountain Junior High upon graduation. While moving to Rock Springs reluctantly, he soon grew to love the people, school district, Red Desert and Flaming Gorge. Oscar taught 7th grade PE, health, and adaptive PE for 35 years. He was a teacher that insisted on everyone participating, but most importantly, have fun. He had nicknames for a large majority of students and many of them still claim he was their favorite teacher.
He started every day with his adaptive PE class. To quote a co-teacher, he was fabulous at working with the adaptive PE kiddos and it always made their hearts smile to see his patience, caring, giant smile and laughter when working with them. He cherished the fact that he’d taught three generations of families and maintained those lifelong friendships.
Oscar shared his passion for sports by coaching football and track. While he worked with many outstanding athletes and state champs throughout his 35 years, he cared for all of his athletes equally. He shared his strong work ethic and challenged them to excel, but again, always incorporated fun into workouts.
Growing up, he worked with his father, a paint contractor. Oscar started a small painting business in Rock Springs, and was a meticulous, talented craftsman. This in turn allowed him to meet many residents of Rock Springs. He went above and beyond to assist the many elderly people he worked for and again, developed life long friendships.
Flaming Gorge was a frequent destination while his boys were young, fishing and water skiing on weekends off from soccer games. Ice fishing was a passion and he spent untold hours jigging with his friends. In more recent years, he became an avid golfer, playing daily with a great group of friends and loved traveling to try different golf courses.
Community service was another passion. He volunteered with Lions Club for innumerable projects. He was the moderator and trustee for United Church of Christ and dedicated many hours in leadership and improvement of the church facilities.
He is survived by his wife, Jana, son’s Thomas of Brooklyn, NY and Brian (Maya) and grandson, Grey of Salt Lake City, UT. Father in law, Joe Chasteen (Virginia) of Cheyenne, brothers Larry (Judy) and Lee (Ann) of Laramie, sister, Signe (Bob) of Bayard, NB. Sisters in law JoLynn (Harry) of Loveland, CO and Jacquie (Sam) of Wheatland. Many nieces and nephews and innumerable great friends. His mother and father preceded him in death.
As a husband he was loving, unwavering, a helper and hilarious. As a father he was proud, a strong role model, a listener, fun, and a hero. As a grandpa, he was filled with joy and happiness for the short time he had with Grey. As a brother, he was cherished, a sidekick, a squirt and Cheetos lover, and innocent – if any trouble occurred, he knew nothing about it. He was a passionate teacher; fair, positive, kind, and full of integrity. As a coach; knowledgeable, committed, motivating and fun. As a friend he was loyal, dependable, a great storyteller, prankster and always willing to pitch in. As a hunter and fisherman he focused on the outdoors but was patient, studious, dedicated and over protective of his secret fishing holes. As a sports fan, he bled brown and gold and followed the Broncos, Rockies and Jazz enthusiastically. As a volunteer, he was generous, humble and selfless.
He touched the hearts of all who knew him. It is impossible to forget those who have left you with so many memories.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, December 2nd at 11:00 A.M. at the Sweetwater County Events Complex, 3320 Yellowstone Road, Rock Springs Out of respect to the family of James Oscar Erickson respectfully suggests that donations in his memory be made to Cowboys Against Cancer (1893 Dewar Drive, Rock Springs), Relay for Life (1604 Collins, Rock Springs), or United Church of Christ parking lot fund (1275 Adams Avenue, Rock Springs).