Eric Haslund Rude of Fort Frances, 61, died peacefully at home on May 25, 2023, of complications related to cardiovascular disease.
Eric was born in Fort Frances, Ontario, on June 16, 1961, to parents Aage and Elisbeth (Lisbeth) Rude, immigrants from Denmark who moved to Canada to “see the world.” Eric was the third of four siblings, preceded in birth by Annie and Susanne and followed by Marianne. Eric attended F.H. Huffman Elementary School, Robert Moore Junior High and Fort Frances High School. Eric was a “boys boy” who enjoyed all that a small town in the 1960s and 1970s had to offer – bike riding until dark, swimming at The Point, roughhousing with friends and, of course, enjoying the lake via canoe, windsurfer or sailboat.
Upon graduating high school, Eric earned professional auto mechanic credentials and worked at various auto dealerships in Fort Frances. The death of older sister Annie in a plane crash in 1980 deeply affected him and he left for Denmark in 1981 to find his roots. After two years in Denmark and Sweden, where he continued auto mechanics and constructed wind mills, Eric returned to Fort Frances with what would come to be defining skills and qualities – fluent Danish, love of all things Scandinavian, a deep interest in renewable energy technology and a Viking’s lust for life. Not long after Eric’s return to Fort Frances, he moved into the family cabin on Rainy Lake, accompanied for many years by his beloved dog Lady. Eric lived at the cabin until his mom died in 2005, when he assumed the care of his dad.
Eric attended Lakehead University and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1993 and in the late 1990s joined his father as a distributor of Danish made chemical testing equipment for the pulp and paper industry. Much of his leisure time was spent sailing on Rainy Lake and Eric was an active member of the Rendezvous Yacht Club. Combining his love of sailing and a good party, Eric was the key organizer of the legendary Sand Point Lobster Boil and a regular in the Kettle Falls Regatta. Those who know Eric will remember that he would feign a Danish accent and offer up his favourite liqueurs – Gammel Dansk or Danish Aquavit Schnapps with a hearty “Skol!” – the Danish toast.
Following in his father Aage’s footsteps, Eric was an active member of the Fort Frances community. Whether volunteering with the Kinsmen Club or Culturama, serving as member and chairman of the Ministry of Natural Resources Advisory Committee, organizing childrens’ “learn to sail” programs or leading the effort to preserve the open park space between Church and Nelson Streets, Eric loved Fort Frances and was a passionate citizen.
Eric was also an honorary member of the community of Ranier, Minnesota. Originally drawn to the U.S. side of Rainy Lake through sailing, he formed fast friendships with the pillars of that community and made countless contributions, including many years of volunteer bartending at his favourite haunt, Woody’s (now Loony’s) pub. His friendships on both sides of the border grew fast – and deep.
After his mother died in 2005, he began to spend a significant period of time in Maryland each year, first with wheelchair bound Dad in tow, visiting younger sister Marianne and family. He enjoyed many motorcycle adventures with brother-in-law Les traveling to Florida for Bike Week, solidified his uncle status and formed new friendships through his ability to help Marianne’s neighbours and friends with various projects and willingness to talk and listen to all. A remembrance of Eric will be held by Maryland friends later this summer.
Perhaps Eric’s greatest quality was his seemingly bottomless willingness to help people. Eric could fix your car, paint your bedroom or tile your floor – and he often did it all – for free, for barter or for cheap. Rarely did a request to pitch in go unanswered. Later, as he also became a caregiver for his ailing father, Eric started to make a living as a contractor and handyman, using his diverse skills in projects throughout the Fort Frances/International Falls area. Whether paid or as a favour, Eric has worked on so many cabins, docks and houses in the area, everyone seemed to know him.
Quick with a joke or story, ubiquitous at parties and bars on both sides and always willing to help a friend with any physical or even emotional needs, Eric will be sorely missed by the many people whose lives he touched. As many people know, Eric was a “collector,” but his most important collection was the friendships he forged wherever he went. So whether you knew him by the name of Suzuki, Yukon Jack, Rude Dog, Rudeman, Big Feather or the Viking, he was a beloved brother, uncle, cousin and friend to so many.
He was predeceased by sister Annie; mother Lisbeth and father Aage; and is survived by sisters Susanne and Marianne (Les); nieces Elyse and Georgia and nephews Nathan and Coleman; dear friend/ honorary sister Cheri Tolton-Whatley; many cousins and their families in Denmark; and so very many friends. As one Maryland friend said, “the world is diminished without him.”
A memorial will be held at Zion Lutheran Church at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 16, 2023, with interment at Riverview cemetery at 2:00 p.m., followed by a wake at the home of Cheri Tolton Whatley on Rocky Inlet Road. Please bring a photograph of Eric when you come. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
A second celebration in honour of Eric will be held in Ranier, Minn., on Saturday, June 17, 2023, starting at 1:00 p.m.
Most importantly, in the days ahead, when you see a friend in need, stop and lend them a helping hand or a kind word and think of Eric. Then raise a glass and imagine Eric saying: “Of all the comrades that e’er I had, they’re sorry for my going away. And all the sweethearts that e’er I had, they’d wish me one more day to stay. But since it fell into my lot that I should rise and you should not. I’ll gently rise and softly call good night and joy be to you all.”
Arrangements entrusted to Northridge Funeral Home Ltd., Emo, Ontario.