By Paul Heffron
After a period of declining health, humanist leader George Erickson died on July 25 at age 90 near Eveleth, Minn.
George had a long association with HumanistsMN. While living in New Brighton, he served from 1989 to 1995 in leadership roles including president, newsletter editor, program director, and host for our cable TV program. He did much to help expand our organization, then known as the Humanist Association of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
He also served as vice president of the American Humanist Association.
George wore many other hats. He had a career as a dentist, wrote a number of science books, and led a variety of civic organizations, including the Worthington Toastmasters, Worthington Airport Commission, and Nobles County Art Center. He also served on the New Brighton Environmental Quality Board and as vice president of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association.
He was also a philanthropist. In recent years, George became addicted to tennis and helped raise money for a four-court indoor tennis and pickleball facility in Virginia, Minn. He pledged $170,000 and chaired a committee that raised $720,000. The facility was recently named for him. George estimated that he and his wife, Sally, donated more than $1 million to local, national, and international charities and progressive causes.
George’s books include True North: Exploring the Great Wilderness by Bush Plane and its sequel Back to the Barrens, which drew on his many solo flights over the Alaska Arctic and Northern Canada. Other books include Time Traveling with Science and the Saints and Eyes Wide Open, an essay collection.
George considered his book on nuclear energy his most important. Unintended Consequences:The Lie that Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change argues that nuclear energy, rather than solar and wind power, is required to meet the challenge of climate change. For several years, he gave talks on this topic at practically every college and university in Minnesota and adjacent areas. He finished his sixth book, Born to Fly, and secured its publication before he died. It contained more on his flight ventures and other essays.