My best friend and dear husband Eric Mundell passed away peacefully on Friday, May 13, 2022. He was fun and funny, loving and kind. He had a tender heart and compassion for all things wildlife and children.
Eric was born October 20, 1953, to Arthur “Lee” Mundell and Barbara Drue Ables, college students at University of Wyoming in Laramie. They didn’t have a crib for Eric and he was so long, he got to sleep in a dresser drawer (but his mom assured me the dresser drawer was never shut while he was in it!). He lived in Wyoming with his parents and younger sister Mary until 4th grade. His family moved to Idaho Falls when his father got an HR job with Argonne National Laboratory at INEL. Eric was tall in his youth and tall as an adult: 6 foot 6 inches! This meant he also had big feet. When he entered the 4th grade classroom for the first time, his friend Vicky Tokita says that Eric’s feet entered the room, soon followed by Eric himself.
Eric attended O.E. Bell Junior High and graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1972. He played on the IF basketball team with his buddies Joe Hanson and Marty Bauchman. Their senior year, their basketball team should have taken State but they didn’t. Eric and his friends were allowed to play basketball in the Presbyterian Church anytime they wanted. But sometimes they wanted to play basketball later in the day. They would leave a window open at O.E. Bell Junior High and let themselves in a night to play. Joe Hanson, Don Ormond, and Steve Barry were a few of his basketball buddies who let themselves in and did no damage, just played basketball!
Eric had a lifelong love of the VW Beetle Bug. His friend Joe Hanson shared the following memory with me: I remember this one thing. We each had our own case of beer: Joe, Marty, and Eric, and we had a large pizza for each one of us. We got feeling pretty good. So, we took off in VWs playing hide and seek in Idaho Falls. I was driving my Bug with Marty as the passenger. Eric had someone in his Bug with him. We were driving down alleyways and over on 17th Street and down Holmes. We kept trying to lose Eric. Finally, we got stopped by a cop. We were drinking beer in the car, and Marty was trying to hide it. The cop approached our car and asked, “Okay, what is this all about? Why are you driving so fast?” I told the cop that there were these men in a green Volkswagen and they had pulled a gun on us. So, they let us go and went looking for Eric. But luckily they didn’t find him!
Eric was friends with Ken Ochi in high school. Ken’s dad Fred Ochi was a talented painter of sailboats and Idaho scenery such as barns and windmills. Eric bought several of Mr. Ochi’s paintings and each one of the paintings is a favorite of his! Eric also cared for Mrs. Ochi. She was the first person to introduce Eric to Japanese home cooking.
Eric always felt so fortunate that his father worked at the INEL. Because of Lee’s position in HR, he was responsible to entertain and assist international scientists that would visit the INEL. Brilliant scientists from all over the world would come to dinner at Eric’s house. His mom Barbara would cook meals and the family would visit with their guests.
Eric enlisted in the Air Force prior to his high school graduation. He achieved the rank of Sergeant and served as a Fire Protection Specialist and a Crash Firefighter. He told many stories of his time stationed at RAF Bentwaters in the UK. He toured the countryside near Ipswitch in his left-driving TR6. When he returned to the States, he brought the TR6 with him. Also, he told us many times how much he liked “midnight chow”. Midnight chow was served for the night shift. Eric was not on the night shift, but he went for a fourth meal anyway. Anyone who knows Eric well will understand that he was always ready to eat!
Eric lived in Neosho, Missouri while he attended school for water treatment. He also received a Bachelor’s Degree from Boise State University in Environmental Health Science.
While working for the Health Department in Pocatello, his son Travis was born in 1984. Eric was so proud to be a daddy! He loved Travis and over the years they went on many hiking trips into the Idaho mountains. They moved to Boise in 1987 where Eric took a job as a Health Facility Surveyor for Medicaid at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. For 25 years, Eric traveled the state of Idaho surveying Assisted Living Facilities and performing Fire and Life Safety inspections of medical facilities such as Nursing Homes and Hospitals. He felt it was his duty to ensure that children and vulnerable adults living in facilities were safely cared for.
Eric met Betsy in 1991. We were on the same bowling team for the John Shuler Fundraiser for children raised in foster care. We started dating soon after and were married in 1992. We lived in Boise for our entire marriage. Our daughter Molly was born in 1998. Eric loved his little girl. He called her Emmy. He spoiled her rotten and cared for her constantly. Eric retired in 2012 in part so he could be at home when Molly returned from school each day. He got up every morning to make her breakfast, even when her job in college required her to be at work at 6 a.m. It was important to him that she had a good meal each day, just like his mom did for him.
Eric was so delighted to get to spend so much time with Molly in his retirement. They went on road trips to the Maryhill Museum in Washington and they visited Great Falls, Montana for the Charles M. Russell Museum. They had such a fun time and Molly continues to tell me new stories about their adventures.
Eric loved the Oregon Coast and the ocean. His visits there were spiritual and uplifting to him. We took many trips over the years to Newport with our children, our grandchildren, and our dogs Chloe and Bridget. We made it to Maui in 2018. Ever since, we have continued to talk about the gorgeous Ka’anapali beach and our tour on the Road to Hana. We also had many trips to Washington, D.C. The most memorable was when we traveled with Travis and Eric’s mom Barbara. We had such a great adventure!
Eric was friends with Tim Stoddard, and he would visit Tim when he was in Idaho Falls. Eric was so proud of the wooden rocking chair that he commissioned Tim to make as a gift for me when our daughter Molly was born. Eric wanted a rocking chair that was wide enough to hold an adult and one or more children. The rocking chair is a gift that I will treasure, always.
Eric was a member of Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue for several years. He trained our dog Shelley in air-scenting and as a team they were able to track and find people in need. Eric hiked Mt. Rainier with his friend Steve Argyle, and it was the highlight of his hiking adventures!
Eric spent many years training in tae kwon do. He was very proud to earn his 2nd degree black belt.
Among his other jobs, Eric worked at the Boise Interagency Fire Center (BIFC, now NIFC) and at the Boise Airport. With his sister Mary, Eric was a rangeland firefighter. He could also tell you stories about his teenage jobs moving sprinkler pipe in Idaho Falls and driving Porsches and other cars from out of state to Idaho Falls. Who trusts a teenager with a Porsche?
Eric will be missed by his many friends and his family. He is survived by his wife Betsy, daughter Molly, bonus daughter Holly Vigil, son Travis, grandchildren Hope, Preston, Makenzee, Rylee, and Dylan. He is also survived by his mother Barbara, sister Mary, and brother Randy. He was preceded in death by his father Lee, his grandparents, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Eric spent time with our large extended family at birthday parties, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Our nieces and nephews and their families brought great joy into our lives. Thank you for all the love! Matthew, Karen, Holly, Jamie, Tabitha, Tiffiny, Taylor, Trent, Carli, Chris, Cam, Mason, Scott, Becky.
Eric’s ashes will be inurned at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery at a later date.
For those who would like to do so, you may donate to the World Wildlife Fund in Eric’s name.
On Sunday, June 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a Celebration of Life memorial service will be held in the Boise Depot located at 2603 W. Eastover Terrace in Boise.
Please plan to arrive no later than 6:15 p.m. so that you give yourself enough time to be seated prior to the service starting at 6:30 p.m. Parking is limited to designated areas and is available on a first come, first served basis. There are 73 parking spaces on Eastover Terrace. Additional parking spaces are available in the gravel area west of “Big Mike,” the locomotive on the north side of the tracks.