ERIK HANS FLOAN was born in Mankato, Minnesota, on January 29, 1969, and was adopted by Hans and Connie Floan six weeks later. Erik paved the way for younger sister Ingrid, and younger brothers Einar and Obed.
Erik graduated from Fosston High School in 1987; St. Olaf College in 1991 (B.A. Church Music); and Notre Dame University in 1994 (M.A. Music - Organ Performance and Literature). He served as Director of Worship and Music for Gethsemane Lutheran in Seattle, WA; Holy Trinity Lutheran on Mercer Island, WA; and Cross of Christ Lutheran in Bellevue, WA. He moved to Winona, MN, in 2012, after accepting the position of Director of Worship, Music, and Arts at Central Lutheran Church. After a year of intentional candidacy, Erik made Final Oblation at St. John's Abbey (Benedictine) in February 2018.
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Erik started taking piano lessons the same year he started school, and he quickly excelled at this instrument. However, Erik's love of the organ was evident early, as he requested an organ teacher for his 10th birthday. Hans and Connie supported his interest by locating a teacher and then making the two-hour drive (one way!) each week for his lessons.
His interests were not limited to music, though. Erik was active in Boy Scouts, an avid Lego builder, a model train enthusiast, and a science fiction fan. Erik was fascinated by design and briefly considered pursuing a degree in architecture.
Two years in a row, around ages 9 and 10, Erik designed and built a robot costume for Halloween. The second time, there was a major snowstorm, requiring kids to wear their costumes over their snow gear. Much to Erik's delight, his costume easily accommodated this, and he was able to go trick-or-treating. Since most of the other kids in town weren't able to go out in the storm, Erik came home with quite a haul! Anyone aware of his love of sweets won't be surprised to hear that he did not share his stash.
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Though Erik was proud of his Norwegian upbringing, he developed a deep appreciation for and love of Asian culture. His musical talents led him to take a trip to several Asian countries, including Singapore, Japan, and Thailand. While there, he shared his gift of music through organ recitals. Erik celebrated his and others' accomplishments with sushi, a cuisine he encouraged everyone to experience.
Curious and culturally adventurous, Erik enjoyed traveling to new places and seeking local flavor. He regularly traveled to Hawaii, often spending a week there before the busy church season of Advent or following Easter. Other travel highlights include Italy, Greece, China, Hong Kong, New York City, San Diego, Vancouver, and Alaska. Erik shared his love of travel through articles for a variety of travel publications.
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Erik had a dry sense of humor and mischievous spirit, which led to natural connections with children and youth. As an uncle, he would get down on the floor to play or read whenever he spent time with his nieces or nephews. He also enjoyed taking his nieces and nephews out for treats, like coffee or ice cream. Erik's birth family found him in August, 2011, and he developed close relationships with them, especially his nephews and niece.
He pursued opportunities to connect with kids, whether through his work at churches or as an accompanist with the local high school choir. In April of 2018, Erik commented that "It helps fortify my soul to be with these kids. Like nothing else." He recently discovered a love for teaching Confirmation classes to middle school students, and he was in the process of pursuing further education at Luther Seminary in the field of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at the time of his death.
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Few things made Erik happier than bringing his grand ideas to fruition, letting no detail escape his attention. He orchestrated an annual Easter Vigil that concluded with a festive reception featuring live jazz. Erik delighted in planning Hymn Festivals, inspired by the Festivals of legendary organists Paul Manz and David Cherwein. He developed Artist Series at the churches where he served, showcasing a wide variety of arts organizations and individuals. At Central Lutheran, he hosted a yearly organ recital that featuring many talented organists.
Erik was a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM), the American Guild of Organists (AGO), the Walker Art Center, the Bach Society, and the Winona Historical Society. At an ALCM conference in Milwaukee, Erik led a session titled "Little Drummer Boy Meets Clueless Organist," which explored how a traditional church organist could learn to embrace praise music. Erik had been a contributor to numerous liturgical planning resources produced by the Lutheran publisher Augsburg Fortress. In the spring of 2018, Erik was one of 24 Winona-area residents selected to participate in the Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat, which develops and trains local leaders to build healthy communities.
Erik died unexpectedly at his home in Winona on Wednesday, May 30.
Erik is survived by his mom, Connie of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin; sister Ingrid and husband Michael Erickson, niece Disa, of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin; brother Einar and wife Amy, nephew Oscar and niece Kajsa, of Evansville, Wisconsin; brother Obed and wife Megan of Forest Lake, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his father, Hans.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a gift to one of the organizations below.
SCHOLARSHIP FUND - ASSOCIATION OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSICIANS
The Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) nurtures and equips musicians to serve and lead the church's song. ALCM is a strong and successful service and professional organization, dedicated to the cause of strengthening the ministry of music in the Lutheran Church.
SCHOLARSHIP FUND - ASSOCIATION OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSICIANS
810 FREEMAN STREET
VALPARAISO, IN 46383
LUTHER SEMINARY - CHILDREN, YOUTH, & FAMILY MINISTRY MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAM
The Children, Youth and Family (CYF) Ministry concentration provides students with academic courses, community discipleship, and ministry experience that leaves students powerfully equipped to nurture and strengthen the faith of young people and their families with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2481 COMO AVENUE
SAINT PAUL, MN 55108
AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS - NEW ORGANIST FUND
The American Guild of Organists (AGO) strives to engage, support, and uplift every organist. The AGO fosters a thriving community of musicians who share their knowledge and inspire passion for the organ.
AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS - NEW ORGANIST FUND
475 RIVERSIDE DRIVE, SUITE 1260
NEW YORK, NY 10115
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To Erik's family and friends, my sympathies and prayers. News of his untimely death saddens my heart.
I knew Erik during my years as a graduate student at Notre Dame. Erik was my roommate in my first year (1992-93). He was a good friend, a wonderful musician and fabulous cook. He has also been a gift to the church and blessed many through his ministries over the years. Although we hadn't been in touch since he graduated from Notre Dame, he was happy to receive my Facebook friend request earlier this year. After catching up, we were planning for a visit in person during my trip to Minnesota at end of July.
Will have to wait for heaven to see you next, Erik! Until then, rest in peace in the arms of Jesus.
Erik and I became friends when I spent a home-stay year with his family in Iowa in 1991.
My family and I have met Erik since then during his travels in Europe and Japan; later, as a University student I visited him in Seattle twice.
Having gotten to know him as a young adult, he left a deep impression on me with his sharp intellect, his humor, liberal political views and of course his passion and talent for music.
We both shared many interests such as travel, food, art, design and architecture which later became my profession.
We reconnected only briefly when I relocated to New York City many years ago. I wish I could have seen him again.
Goodbye Erik, I'll miss you.
When I picked up our paper today, I noticed an organ picture and Erik, and thought oh boy, Eric must be giving a concert. When I turned the paper over, walking inside, I saw enough that I did not want to read any more. For his friends, family and loved ones, I'm very sad for your loss. And for the rest of us, we've lost a terrific person in our community. Eric and Kettle stayed with us at Alexander Mansion on his first and second trips from Seattle. Eric's extended family joined him for breakfast here in 2011, and it was my pleasure to meet them. Eric and I would run into each other at Blue heron, and the Mid Town Market and Walmart, every few months. I wish I'd gotten to know him better. Richard Grabow
Erik expanded our worship lives wherever he went, whether through icons as mentioned below, Easter vigils and music series as mentioned in his obituary, or just his general ecumenical leanings. I truly which I could attend his final celebration, as I'm sure it will be one worthy of his musical legacy.
Dear Connie and family, My thoughts and prayers are with you. Barbara Wilson
I knew Erik at Central Lutheran Church, Winona MN. as our organist, and worship coordinator. His gifts were so many: not just the music and his skill at the organ, but the thoughtful coordination of the service . He also gave us the gift of Ketel, that great dog that greeted us in Erik's office and also licked up crumbs at coffee hour during the quilting group. Erik was a good teacher as well and so informative regarding church history. He is missed, and mourned.
He was a fantastic organist and I am very grateful for him letting me play the organ at Central Lutheran. Thank you for taking your time to teach me the world's most beautiful music, Erik.
A true gift to the church and the people of God.
Erik Hans Floan has been the gay friend I've known the longest, after having met him over Thanksgiving 2001 in Honolulu. We've kept in touch ever since, and have gone on many travels together, from Minneapolis westward to Whitefish and Portland, Seattle south to Santa Barbara, LA and Palm Springs, San Diego up to San Francisco and Napa, then northward to Mendocino and Klamath, NYC to Fire Island, as well as all over the Hawaiian islands. I saw him less after he uprooted his life in Seattle, and moved to Winona, though that summer road trip from Madison to Minneapolis and, finally, Winona sure was a whole lot of fun. He last called 3 months ago after he found out my dad had died, and left me a sweet voicemail. Somehow, I never called him back. In hindsight, I am reminded that life is short and bittersweet, and, also, that we should always return phone calls from dear friends, and check in on them every so often. Rest peacefully, dear Erik. You abruptly leave behind a trail of grand memories (and many more yet to have been made,) but I know your great spirit lives on in the many good and kind works that your family and loved ones will continue on to do, and all the many wonderful travels I will share going forward with other very dear friends, full of bitchy banter, biting sarcasm, profound pathos, and boundless joy, as only you could've known how.
Erik and I became friends through Central Lutheran. Erik elevated the space around us, making it beautiful, reminding us that God is beautiful. He was a masterful musician, creative, brilliant, and smart. He recognized other's talents and coaxed them out, widening the circle of contributors to the beauty, function, and peace of the church and community. He was a friend who loved at all times, passionate about causes and people. He was a genius, and his death leaves a deep heartache. Please accept my deepest condolences on his passing.
Having Erik enter our lives six years ago was a true blessing. We enjoyed the opportunity to know him and marveled at his incredible talent. He stayed with us on his frequent trips to the Twin Cities and I had opportunity to attend concerts and plays with him. Tom and I were looking forward to having him live with us this summer while he planned the next stage of his journey. His wit was quick, his talent remarkable and his heart was big. He spoke often of his nieces and nephews, of the trips he was able to take with some of them and of plans he had for adventures as others got older. He will certainly be missed by Tom and I, by his family and the community in general.
Tom Morgan and Jerri Jenkins
To Erik's family and many friends - please accept my condolences at the death of Erik. He was a kind and generous man who contacted me before Lent 2018 began and asked me to come to Central Lutheran, Winona with my icons to lead Wednesday evening worship services, and to partake in exposing the confirmation classes to them and the Gospel stories they illuminate. I accepted with gladness! He did a great job organizing the services, leading the music, and conducting as well as supervising the confirmation classes. He, himself, loved the ancient icons. He also arranged for me to come and lead the Easter Vigil service at Central - which was quite grand - and also to come and lead Pentecost worship. He was a gift to the church at large, and to me as a visiting preacher and presider. Goodbye Erik. We'll meet again, and won't it be grand!?
I got to know Erik when he was music director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. I enjoyed learning so much from him, and we kept in tough through Facebook. The world has lost a wonderfully talented person whose sense of humor was a delight. I’m so sorry for his family’s loss.
Our whole class of 1987 from Fosston Mn was saddened to hear this news. Our hearts go out to his whole family- those we knew here in Fosston and those he met later in life.
Erik was an amazing person. He was my mentor, friend, and colleague. He took me under his wing when I was a budding church musician and found places for me shine. I learned so much from him and will carry him with me as I continue my work curating worship. I will miss him greatly.
Erik was an incredibly talented musician. Although I am not a member of Central Lutheran, I attended several services and choir events at the church just to "take in" his music. About 4 years ago, I attended a Good Friday service in that left me in awe of his musical talent. It was unexplainable. Rest peacefully
Thank you Erik for coming to Central Lutheran Church and adorning us with your music, sharing of the Word, and awing us all with beautiful displays in the sanctury. Peace be with you Erik. Geri & Bob Quinlan
Erik you were great to work with and a wonderful talent! Sending prayers for your family!
His music. The magic of his hands and feet at the organ. He brought joy to our wedding day 21 years ago. Peace be with you Erik.
Was a class mate of ERIK FLOAN I am sorry to hear about the sad news my prayers are with you and your family in this time of sorrow and sadness, GOD BLESS,
MATT AGNES CLASS OF 1987
Erik enriched my life for years by being a wonderful conductor, musician, mentor, and inspiration to me. I sang in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church choir for several years, as did both of my parents. I was also invited by Erik to play my flute for services there. Being a member of a church with Erik Floan as organist and choir director is one of my greatest sources of inspiration as a musician. I am not a professional, but he brought a level of professionalism to a mostly amateur group of musicians, and we played and sang beautifully, in our church, and at St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral and St. John's Cathedral in Seattle due to his inspiring work. I also know that he was a gifted teacher of aspiring musicians, as well as Catachetics students. His gift for organization and inspiration, and his joy for making music are a great loss. He was a wonderful, gentle spirit, with a wicked sense of humor. He will be greatly missed. Kind regards, and my deepest sympathies for your loss. With great love. Peace be with you and your family and friends, Erik. Sincerely, Patty Weston
To Erik’s families. It was wonderful to meet your son and benefit from the strength he brought the arts community in Winona. I will miss working along side him and pray that you all may be comforted at this time.
So very sorry for your loss. I knew Eric when Hans and Connie lived in Newfolden where he ministered at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. What a wonderful family. Hugs and prayers
Our hearts are saddened by this loss and our thoughts and prayers are with Erik's family, friends and the community that Erik touched in so many ways.
The Childers Family
To Erik's family: We are beyond words at the loss of Erik. He was SO talented in so many ways, and we loved him. Just listening to him play that organ was something extra ordinary. We loved him, and will forever miss him.
Rest in peace Erik Such a talented person you were. Judy Benson Alexis and Hayden Graves
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