Joel G. Erkenswick

ErkenswickJoel G. Erkenswick, 73, on August 30, 2019, in St. Louis, Mo. Joel was born on August 8, 1946, in Chicago, Ill., to Mary Lou Sharp and Herbert Erkenswick. He had a younger brother, Robert, with whom he stayed close his entire life. Joel graduated from Lane Technical College Prep High School (then Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School) in 1964 and Wheaton College in 1968. He was drafted after graduating and became a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, serving in South Vietnam in 1970. After some time, he refused to carry his weapon and was almost court martialed. He returned to Chicago in 1971, and completed the core curriculum for a doctorate in sociology at University of Illinois. He worked at various businesses in the Chicago area and did contract teaching for the Chicago and Evanston public schools.

He met Jane Lehman in the 1970s, and they married in 1977. They had two sons, Aaron and Gideon. After periods at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago and the Unitarian Church of Evanston, he joined Evanston (Ill.) Meeting in 1989, following a presentation about the Quakers at the Unitarian Church. He quickly bonded with Evanston Friends. Participating actively in the life of the meeting, he served on several committees. He was loved for his good nature, loving and positive attitude, and his unusual and joyful messages during worship.

He had a lively sense of humor and a zest for life, despite serious health problems during the final three decades of his life. He was a three-time kidney transplant recipient, and was on dialysis four times. He also developed multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s disease. Yet his desire for life was unstoppable. Never playing the victim, he was a loving and dedicated spouse and father. He loved community and helped to grow it wherever he was.

He lived in St. Louis the last nine years of his life, where he worshiped with St. Louis Meeting. His family and friends gathered for a celebration of his life at Evanston Meeting on November 2, 2019, and his family placed his ashes in Evanston Friends Memorial Garden. Joel is survived by two children, Aaron Erkenswick and Gideon Erkenswick; and four grandchildren.

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