Oregon — Eric Stahlheber, 36, lost his battle with brain cancer and slipped the surly bonds of Earth, Easter Sunday, April 1st, with his wife, Kinsey and children by his side.
Eric spent most of his life in the service of others. From helping elderly neighbors in his small community, to assisting his grandparents with routine household projects, he valued assisting others when possible. Later, his passion for service to others, and for planes, led him to join the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earning a nomination to enlist into the United States Air Force (USAF) Academy. Also, while in CAP, he also earned the prestigious Billy Mitchell Award for meritorious service to his country.
Shortly after graduating from Rochelle Township High School in 2000, Eric continued on his chosen path and joined the USAF to become a crewmember of the C17 Globemaster, being promoted to Sr. Loadmaster immediately upon completion of his basic training and from his service in the CAP.
He proudly served his country in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) logging many hard days and more than one “Banner” mission, including flying former President George W. Bush’s, and the Vice President’s, crew and equipment. He was grateful for his in-depth understanding of other cultures, which made his time in distant far away lands a bit easier.
Upon returning home, his service to others continued in the Lynn-Scott-Rock volunteer fire department, volunteering at his children’s schools and resuming assisting his grandparents and other family members when needed. However, the work Eric cherished the most was that of being father to his two young sons who survive him.
In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by his parents, Steve and Susan Kivikko, siblings Collin and Casey Kivikko, mother and father-in-law Bob and Jane Acree, maternal grandparents Janet and Howard Stahlheber. He considered himself a lucky man with a large close-knit family of uncles, aunts, cousins and friends to return home to. Eric remarked more than once that he wasn’t afraid of dying; just all of the family and events would miss. All will miss his never-ending sense of humor and unwavering stoicism.
At Eric’s request, his body was donated for the advancement of science. Memorial services will be held Saturday, April 21 from 2-5 p.m. at Oregon VFW, Chaplain John Tilley officiating military honors ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent directly to the family, for brain tumor research, veteran’s organizations, or your local school education fund.