Eric Larson was born on June 13th, 1960, to Paul and LaVerne Larson in Cresco Iowa. While he was the quietest of their three children, he was born with perfect pitch, along with the ability to memorize every aspect of a song to later replicate, play and rearrange. He fell in love with the magic of music early on, studying the masters – both classical and contemporary. The possibilities of the medium seemed endless to Eric.
Growing up in Iowa City, it was just a given that once through primary school, the University of Iowa would naturally follow. There, he majored in Music and was soon playing his euphonium in the University of Iowa marching band, highlighted by helping cheer on his beloved Hawkeyes during the 1982 Rose Bowl. He also soloed during a Bruckner Symphony with U of I Symphony Orchestra.
After graduation, he pursued teaching positions without success. Held back by his introverted demeanor and reluctance to promote his abilities as a musician or teacher, Eric ultimately chose to follow a different path. He found employment in food services, specifically delivery.
This change of course didn’t dampen his desire to create and play his music, nor did it slow him down from wanting to share his gift with others. The time spent driving between deliveries afforded Eric the opportunity to work on his music in his mind. He could hear a new song on the radio during his shift. Then once he got home, he’d pick up his trusty Fender Stratocaster and faithfully replicated what he’d just heard – even put a new spin on it – like he’d been practicing it for months.
He was by no means limited to other musician’s creations. Throughout his life, Eric composed and arranged music behind the scenes for the University of Iowa marching band – music that has been played in stadiums and broadcasted around the world.
He also collaborated with his college professor, Robert Yeats, in starting “Tuba Christmas”. From its inception, Eric arranged and composed music for the now annual event, even playing along with his own euphonium in what has become one of the centerpieces of the holiday celebration in Iowa City. Performances are shown on television news broadcasts and available online to reach those living outside of Eastern Iowa.
Although Eric never landed that teaching job he so coveted, he never lost sight of his mission to help others and make the world a cheerier, happier place through his gift. He never asked for compensation for his works and he never copyrighted them, saying that the satisfaction of others enjoying his creations was more than enough for him.
Last week, Eric heroically faced the biggest challenge of his life. Due to complications from two damaged heart valves, Eric died on Thursday, June 29th, 2017, in the hospital of the University that he so loved.
Even though he’s gone, Eric’s compositions and arrangements will live on, continuing to teach students and charm listeners alike. Just as they have over the past 40 years.
When Eric wasn’t involved with his music or working and the weather was warm and sunny, he could often be found tinkering with and driving his MGB Roadster with the top down.
Surviving are his parents, LaVerne Larson and Paul Larson, sisters Janet Larson (John Moes) and Kristen Larson, and her two children.
The family and friends visitation will be from 10:00 to 11:00 AM on Friday, July 7th, 2017 at Lindstrom Funeral Home, 119 2nd Ave SW, Cresco, IA 52136 with the funeral to immediately follow at 11:00 AM.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, July 7th, 2017 at Lindstrom Funeral Home, 119 2nd Ave SW, Cresco, IA 52136, with Pastor Leo Combs-Lay officiating. Burial will be in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Cresco.
In lieu of flowers, a contribution can be made to one of the following: the University of Iowa Tuba Euphonium Studio, UI Carver College of Medicine or Toys for Tots.