SEATTLE, Wash. — Eric Cristin Tilleson was born to Calvin and Irene Tilleson (Wright) on May 13, 1959 in Billings, Montana. Upon arriving home from the hospital, he had what was possibly the happiest childhood in the history of childhood. From the beginning, Eric had a cheerful outlook on life, a quick and curious mind, an immense imagination and of course, that wit.
Eric’s mother, affectionately known as Rene, was an especially important influence in his life, bringing to him an appreciation of books, a deep compassion for animals and an ear for music. The piano lessons he took from Mrs. Zimmerman, a teacher who lived nearby, took hold of him and never let go. Piano was only the beginning of all the instruments he learned to play, but a keyboard always felt like home.
Growing up in Billings gave him many gifts: the special stillness and peace of snow falling in the night; the rush of sledding down steep hills the next day; lakes and pools in the hot summertime; riding bikes all over the neighborhood and getting penny candy from the 10th Avenue Grocery; chilly Halloweens in homemade costumes; hearing stories of the immigrants and tribal people that preceded him, and their intermingling. He loved it all and never lost his sentimentality regarding the time and place he grew up.
Eric adored school, from his first days at Eastern Elementary to graduation from Billings Senior High in 1978 and Montana State University in 1983, where he graduated with a BS degree in Microbiology. In those formative years he found friendships that were treasured and lifelong. Across the road from his childhood home lived Dee. They loved building and playing with model airplanes and ships, but especially the planes which were mostly WWII-era. Eric never once questioned that a girl would prefer playing with model airplanes to playing with dolls. Their friendship lasted until his death.
Often up for adventure and full of fun, Eric was a great companion throughout his life. In the words of his brother from another mother, Joe, Eric was an Übermensch (albeit without any racial undertones). He was a Renaissance man and an intellectual sponge who never stopped learning. He was a diver, with advanced certification, and knew how to fence. He also rowed crew, tried trapeze and did ball-room dancing even though he was known more for his intellectual exploits than his physical ones.
In the mid-1990s, Eric arrived in Seattle where he worked at Wizards of the Coast and later Edmark. He then worked at Microsoft for 14 years (2000—2014) where he was a programming writer who documented Windows C++ Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). As the primary programming writer responsible for Win32 Shell and Windows User Interface (UI) common controls, he generated a prodigious amount of content on the Microsoft Technical Library. He also found the time to mentor other writers who’d sit in his old armchair, stuffed chock full of teddy bears, in his office.
Eric may have been an introvert but he collected people and shared his passions with us all: concerts, comedy, opera, film, literature, history, science fiction, food, world travel, photography and Susan’s annual Oscar Party where he frequently won in the ‘most correct answers’ category. One Christmas Eric received a unique and unexpected gift over which he was pleased as punch. He was gifted a lordship from the Principality of Sealand and received a ‘Registration Deed of Individual Noble Title’ signed by Prince Michael of Sealand. Thus, he became Lord Eric Tilleson.
Eric also achieved a certified level of proficiency in the French language which he studied daily. However, his aspirations to live and work in a French-speaking environment weren’t realized as he passed away suddenly, Nov. 22, 2019, after a brief illness. Eric’s final resting place is the Lake View Cemetery in Seattle where Bruce Lee is buried. We are eternally grateful to Dr. Karen Koo, and the ICU team at Swedish First Hill, for the round-the-clock care they provided and for their wells of compassion.
Loved ones left behind are Eric’s beloved sister, Andre Tilleson, her partner Allen Benson and her children Lee Tilleson and Keith Tilleson. He also leaves behind a rogues gallery of devoted and grieving friends. Although he is no longer of this world he continues to live in all of us who carry forth his spirit. A Celebration of Life will be held from 1 pm to 4 pm on Saturday, Feb. 22 at The Knife Room in Seattle, details here: https://erictilleson.squarespace.com/
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Lord Eric, please consider The Alley Cat Project, a Seattle based organization where he was a volunteer who was valued for his kindness, patience and effectiveness with felines in need of love. https://alleycatproject.org/donate/
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