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‘Doc’ Erickson remembered for dedication to vets — and kids

Today Ericksis commander Roosevelt-AurorAmerican LegiPost 84 owns EricksChiropractic Center 715 Foran Lane Aurora. He also helped bring half-size replicVietnam Veterans

Today, Erickson is commander of Roosevelt-Aurora American Legion Post 84, and owns Erickson Chiropractic Center at 715 Foran Lane in Aurora. He also helped to bring a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Aurora in 1989. | Courtesy of Norris Erickson

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Updated: September 23, 2012 6:13AM

AURORA — The man known by most as “Doc,” chiropractor and Aurora American Legion Post 84 Commander Norris “Doc” Erickson, died of lung cancer Monday.

Erickson, 68, long involved in area veteran’s programs, stepped forward in 2011 to help save Aurora’s Fourth of July parade, at a time when the city was considering cutting back on the Independence Day celebration because of economic issues. He also owned and operated the Erickson Chiropractic Center in Aurora.

Alderman Stephanie Kifowit, 3rd Ward, an American Legion member, said Erickson was in good spirits when she spent time with him this week.

“His heart was just being there for the veterans, his friends, his family,” Kifowit said. “I told him (the Legion’s) in good hands and we’ll make him proud.”

His wife, Sally Rickel-Erickson, met Erickson in 1987 as his patient after car accident. Rickel-Erickson said she fell in love with chiropractic, and with him.

“He was just such a principled man. That was his life,” Rickel-Erickson said. “He was a man who loved unconditionally.”

Rickel-Erickson went on to work in the clinic, and the two were together for more than 20 years. They married last year, although the plan wasn’t to marry until 2014, when Erickson retired, his wife said.

Erickson always wanted to have a living wake, his wife said, and he had one, of sorts: More than 100 friends and family members came to visit him at his home between Wednesday and Sunday. They set up his bed in the living room.

“Everyone had a story. And he kept saying, ‘I never knew. I never knew,’ ” Rickel-Erickson said.

Ken Olson, Post 84 chaplain and World War II veteran, said Erickson served as commander of the post for more than two decades.

“He gave a really spirited leadership to our organization,” Olson said. “He certainly was a patriot, I’ll tell you that. He loved America and all that it stood for.”

American Legion Vice Commander Tom Sampson, a Gulf War veteran, said Erickson didn’t just care about veterans affairs, he cared about the entire Aurora community. Erickson sponsored many youth softball teams, Sampson said.

“He had all sorts of pictures of kids that he helped as a pediatric chiropractor,” Sampson said, and as 30-year-olds, they would still pop into his office.

Erickson was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1965, and was stationed at the Panama Canal. He graduated in 1972 from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and landed in Sandwich, where he worked for his aunt, also a chiropractor. In 1976, he opened his Aurora clinic. Erickson’s mother and father were also chiropractors, Rickel-Erickson said.

In 1989, Erickson helped bring a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Aurora.

Last year, Erickson was honored by the General Motors “Our Town, Our Heroes” program for his involvement in veterans affairs. He also served on the Aurora Municipal Airport Board for more than 20 years, his wife said.

Erickson is survived by his wife, her four children and four grandchildren.

“Doc lived in a world of ‘we,’ ” Rickel-Erickson said. “It was ‘our office.’ That’s just the way it was — he was a giving man in all respects.”

A visitation is scheduled from 11 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Dieterle Memorial Home, 1120 S. Broadway, Montgomery. A memorial service is planned for 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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