always the Second Sunday evening in December
Erik loved to tell stories and this is the beginning of one we found that he had written as part of his college application process: “ Here I am, the first day on the job. This a like a dream come true, I am working as a security guard for the new company, Borders on the Internet.”
This is how Erik began his essay in response to the question: “What do you want to do with your education?” Erik wanted to study computers and was especially interested in network security. This was very unusual in circa 1995 – this was a time of IBM486 computers and dial up bulletin boards. Erik loved to tell stories, so he told of his future plans in the form of a fictional story. His story talks about how through hard work and persistence, he was able to be successful in doing what interested him the most. Another part of the application process was to select a comment or quote that best represented you. Erik selected part of the Boy Scout Oath, “ On my honor, I will do my best.” This is how he lived his life. It may not have been long in years but it was full in quality.
Erik was born at Bess Kaiser Hospital in Portland on September 22, 1976. He shared his birthday with his great Uncle Carl who had been born 75 years earlier. He grew up in the Cedar Hills neighborhood and attended Ridgewood Elementary School. He began his love of both music and scouts at Ridgewood. Erik attended Cedar Park Intermediate School and was a Senior at Sunset High School when he died.
Erik had many interests and loved life. He played the Baritone in the Sunset High School Marching Band and also played in the Wind Ensemble. He loved the competition and enjoyed the hard work. His Scouting career culminated with his achieving the Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank that Scouting offers. This was presented to him on February 5 , 1995 at St Matthew Lutheran Church. Erik was an active member of his church. He believed in service to others and knew his God. He had several difficult moments in his life including his dyslexia and the tragic death of his dearest friend in 1993. His Faith never wavered. His last day began with working the sound system at Sunday morning worship services and ended with assisting at the Sunday evening church Youth Program.
Erik loved computers. He had a part-time job at Egghead Software and was excited to go to work. His Dad told him that getting a job would be quite an effort but he needed to get a job to pay for his computer software. To get the position at EggHead, he went in the store and told them that they looked like they could use his help and he was hired on the spot. He was given the “task” of testing all of the newest games so he could explain them to customers. When asked what he learned about himself through his work, he said: “ work takes patience and perseverance. Without these two things, you are doomed to fail”. Because he also had an interest in law enforcement, he wanted to become an expert in computer network security but said that the job he probably would get at graduation had yet to be created. He used technology to overcome his own handicaps and knew that in the future, computers would be doing things that had not yet been imagined.
As part of the same college application process for University of Portland, Erik filled out a form to tell about himself:
As to his most positive personality trait: “ Listening is my best personality characteristic. Many people can hear but few can listen. Also people can trust me. With this combination, people can talk to me and feel comfortable doing so. And I listen and offer advice or just listen to what they need to say. “
As to special talents: “ I give people respect. When someone gets respect, they are going to be more friendly and easier to get along with. Also I have the ability to gain rapport with someone relatively easily. So I make friends relatively quickly.”
Special circumstances in his life: “ My ability to cope with a situation is one of my strengths. Being dyslexic, I have had to go head to head and talk to teachers about getting extra time. My grades show that I have made the best of it.”
What things make you uniquely you?: “ I am a person that does not stand out in a crowd but will stand out in your memory. A smile, a joke, or just a greeting that will make you smile or laugh and just bring light to your day”. (This is written on his grave marker at off Skyline in Mt Calvary Cemetery”)
Erik died in his mother’s arms on Sunday evening, March 5, 1995, at his home. His death was the result of a sudden cardiac arrhythmia of unknown cause. He was a gift from God and we are truly blessed to have known him.
Erik legacy continues in many of the activities that he enjoyed. A computer lab was set up at Sunset High School in conjunction with the College and Career Center. This lab is called the “Weswig Lab” and was the first PC based lab at the school.
At the Sunset High School Spring Band concert, the most improved award is presented in his memory to the student who has demonstrated improvement through hard work. At the Fall Marching Band Classic, the first place trophy is sponsored in his memory. Funds were donated from his memorial fund to purchase additional low brass instruments.
Boy Scout Troop 124 created the “Erik Weswig Award” as the highest honor that the troop offers. It is presented each September to the troop member who most demonstrates living by the Scout Oath – “On my honor, I will do my best”.
A memorial account has been established in his memory and funds scholarships for St Matthew youth activities and Boy Scout activities. Additional funds were donated to the Oregon Branch of the International Dyslexia Association to promote activities that help youth and parents to cope with dyslexia.