Cover photo for Wayne H. Erickson's Obituary
Wayne H. Erickson Profile Photo
1940 Wayne 2022

Wayne H. Erickson

September 5, 1940 — November 9, 2022

Wayne H. Erickson passed away November 9, 2022. At age 82 he leaves behind Leigh Erickson, his confidant and lifelong soulmate of 65 plus years; his son Dr. Kirk W. Erickson of Lake Zurich, Illinois and his triplet grandchildren Nathan Erickson, Ames, Iowa, Sydney Erickson, Stanford, Ca, & Taylor Erickson, Austin, Tx.

Other surviving family are his cousin, William (Bill) Erickson, a retired police officer and his children Nikki & Erin; Sweeney cousins. Second cousins Carol, Jill & Mike, as well as cousin, Michelle. Importantly, he left the “RAT PACK;” his adopted brothers Gene & Nolan Rogers; Nieces Susan, Andi & Lori, as well as Amanda and Shawna Peterson & nephews Jason & Jeremy Rogers; so many beloved other family members, including nieces, nephews and cousins.

Predeceasing him were his parents, three nephews Greg & Mitch & a great nephew Hayden, cousins Dick & Bob Sweeney; brother in law, Rick Rogers.

Wayne was born September 5, 1940, to Harold and Mary (Beckovich) Erickson in Rockford at Swedish American Hospital and spent his entire life in the Rockford area.

Wayne proudly accomplished seeing his grandchildren follow their dreams succeeding in studies and graduating all at different universities. Proud he was because he was never drawn to college. He didn’t need to be drawn; he had a tremendous work ethic starting at an early age. His adage, if a job doesn’t work, move on. His record was 7 W2’s from 7 different places in one tax year. He sold shoes, delivery shop rags, oiled bearings, tried mitering, & did custodial work. His efforts to stay in school & to work for others just didn’t fit him. His father and uncle had an empty building and having done research on buying a franchise and opening a retail store, Wayne opened a Western Auto Store at age 19. His opening day was a success on the street where he grew up. His register (a fancy toolbox) held his sales pad and his sales for the day, a set of tires, a western flyer wagon and a tricycle among other things. Wayne later upgraded and moved a little further down the street to combine his Western Auto with Gambles. There he became a star retailer selling Motorola TVs. Combined with a sub station post office and a Spiegel Catalog order center and tire center to keep his business going. Wayne eventually moved just down the same street & bought a shopping center parcel & opened a home improvement center.

His retail business lasted 26 plus years until K-Mart came to the area. Most of his customers were people he gave credit too. Many of them shopped at his store weekly wanting to buy their bigger items with only Wayne assisting them.

Sadly moving on, Wayne now had a taste of commercial real estate. A full year with no pay and a car with no muffler, the challenge to succeed became his passion.

He established Erickson & Associates and bought a couple of small strip centers; one housed his office, and one was fronted by a Walgreens in Loves Park, Illinois. Having that Walgreens and a sign with his name on it produced a call to Wayne (this is Walgreens in Deerfield, Illinois). From that call Wayne developed a bond as a developer for Walgreens and he thrived on looking for sites. At one point he went to Wyoming looking for a site. He also worked well with Swedish American Hospital divisions and other ventures. Not everything was a success for a Wayne, but he never let his guard down.

Mrs. Manzullo (mother of former state Representative) said, “I knew that boy would be a businessman someday, he would buy a comic book from our store in his neighborhood, sit & read it and put it back so we could sell it again. He wanted us to succeed by selling the same item twice.”

Wayne truly cared about the wellbeing of others and his community & one way he helped was through Zion Lutheran Foundation, but there were many others. Being fortunate to have health care at Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, his contribution there will continue to fund research.

His son was his best friend, they adventured, and mis adventured together, attending every Chicago Bears home game for years with a culmination of going to 85th Super Bowl in New Orleans to watch their favorite team win it all. With a no fear attitude they walked into the Bears camp Super Bowl party to be with Payton, McMahon, Hampton, The Fridge and the rest of the team. For two months they traveled Europe, seeing the Berlin Wall before it was torn down; staying at the foot of the Matterhorn, and then on to Sweden to trace some ancestry. Every country they visited was of interest to them; especially Ireland where they befriended two elderly ladies who toasted them with a little moonshine.

Wayne’s shoes cannot be filled. He remained connected in the business until his passing with his confidant Nerino J. Petro Jr., someone he watched grow up, become a lawyer and finally president of his companies. Wayne was very fond of all of the Petro family, and they all took various vacations together. One fond memory Wayne had included Kirk, Pete Sr., Meribeth Nickels (Meribeth Petro at the time), Leigh and three others to a pent house right off the ocean in Maui, Hawaii for a little over a week. What’s amazing and to be remembered: Nerino (Pete) Petro, Sr. was Wayne’s best friend and business associate in the days of retail with their friendship spanning more than 50 years. The Petros and Wayne created fond memories when Nerino Jr. took Wayne and his father on a special trip to Italy in 2014. While on the trip they visited Rome, Florence, Venice, & Bisesnti, (origin of Pete’s family) and numerous others stops in between. Wayne helped a small shop owner translate documents into English and was rewarded with as many free postcards as he wanted. He also discovered that finding Chardonnay could be a challenge, in a country that loves its red wines. They all found their way into the annual dinner and meeting of Italy’s Carabinieri military police on their last night in Italy. Pete Sr. predeceased Wayne, and he was sorely missed by Wayne.

Late in life Wayne developed a special bond with Tim Swanberg (family)

Honoring him for his 25 plus years of service to his country as a retired army Sergeant Major. Tim became a real asset on board with Erickson & Associates.

Wayne especially was proud of his relationship with Craig Thomas and Jack Ward and eventually Robin Lloyd in Vero Beach, Florida. Standing out alone was his dear friend and CPA Martin J. Goldman (he called the tax man), a man with humor that never failed to make Wayne genuinely laugh, even at tax time. (Lol). (Not to forget Bob Wolf his partner). Others to remember that were business confidants (friends) include George Ralph, Jim Seigfreid & Dan Elliot, to name a few.

Recently Wayne became a Florida resident, spending many months there semi-retired. He discovered Vero Beach by visiting his pal, Pete Petro. His family is so grateful that he truly enjoyed the warmth of the tropical city, because as he aged, he craved the warmth.

All his life Wayne loved to spend time at the movie theatre. He loved all types of action, detective or oldy movies. When he wasn’t looking at the pictures of his shelties and power watching detective shows, two and a half men, or hallmark movies He recently became enamored with nature, specifically wild turkeys sitting high up on branches of giant oak trees. Siting there in his favorite chair he watched nature at its best, saying “I didn’t know turkeys could fly that high and sit so long on a narrow branch.” At his home in the country is where he wanted to leave this earthly life.

He was especially thankful for Tom and Linda Schuepbach for helping Leigh maintain the home he truly loved.

We are all in shock that he left us, and we will be there by his side when it’s time. In our hearts he should still be here; In the meantime, we will hold him close in our hearts, hoping that will help the journey to mending.

A private service will be held on Thursday at Fitzgerald Funeral home. An open, heated tent graveside service will be held at Arlington Cemetery, 6202 Charles Street, Rockford, Illinois at 2:00 pm Thursday, November 17, 2022. A celebration of Life to be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the local Salvation Army; this would serve as an honor to Wayne. To send online condolences or share memories, please visit

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wayne H. Erickson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Thursday, November 17, 2022

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Arlington Memorial Park Cemetery

6202 Charles Street, Rockford, IL 61108

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