Eric "Red" Bjerstedt, 51
Eric Jeffrey "Red" Bjerstedt, a lifelong River Falls resident, died Nov. 7, at his home in rural River Falls, surrounded by family and friends after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. He was 51.
Eric was a devoted family man, auto mechanic, avid outdoorsman, classic car enthusiast, and Green Bay Packer fan.
Eric was born April 15, 1962, one of five children of Richard and Norma (Williams) of River Falls. He attended River Falls public schools and graduated from River Falls High School in 1980.
Eric, a redhead, was his mother's "go to kid" whom she said never whined or found no task too daunting. He grew up working in his father's auto mechanic shop, "Bob and Dick's Garage," along Highway 35 in River Falls. After his parents retired, Eric opened shop in 1998 at the same location under the name "Red's Repair" a successful business he ran until weakened by cancer in 2012. "Red" had many loyal customers who appreciated his skill and honest dealings.
Aug. 27, 1988, Eric married Susan Wilcoxson, daughter of Neil, and the late Mary Jo Wilcoxson of rural Hudson. They celebrated 25 years of humor, love & commitment.
A devoted family man, Eric was a friend, father, and boss to Maxwell, age 23. He was proud and honored to share his trade with the next generation.
When daughter Leah, now age 22, was diagnosed with Autism at age 2, Eric embraced the challenges, taking repeat Disney family trips because of the joy it brought his daughter. He also rigged up the "Shaggin Wagon," camper that enabled great outdoor fun for the whole family.
Eric loved classic cars, including his favorite, a 1976 white Trans Am, and collected old Cockshutt tractors. He once handled the sale of a car to the King of Morocco.
Eric loved the outdoors, football, or just chatting with friends and family. He was a social guy with a knack for making you feel valued. His friends and family returned their friendship with building a ramp, helping with meals & remaining committed to the bond they all shared as cancer took its toll.
Eric is loved & missed by wife Susan (Wilcoxson); son, Maxwell; and daughter, Leah, both of River Falls; his parents, Richard and Norma (Willliams) of River Falls; a brother Mark (Lee Ann) of Roberts; sisters Jill (Tim) Kusilek of Wilson, and Sara (James) Conway of Rochester, Minn., sister-in-law, Natalie (Dan) McNall; brothers-in-law, Gregg, and Rod Wilcoxson; and many nieces; nephews; other relatives; and dear friends.
He was predeceased in death by a brother Jeffrey; and grandparents.
Memorial services for Eric will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Bethel Highlands, 504 Frontage Rd., Hudson WI. Visitation will take place one hour before services at the church as well as from 4-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home - Hudson Chapel.
Friends are encouraged to wear Packer apparel to the visitation in honor of Eric's love of the Green and Gold.
Services are in the care of the O'Connell Family Funeral Home. 715-386-3725 www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com