July 6, 1982 – January 26, 2022


attachment-Erik Helgeson

Erik Jon Helgeson was born in St. Cloud, MN on July 6, 1982, to Karel (Schmit) and Michael Helgeson. A devastating loss for all who loved him, Erik was called to his next big adventure, as he passed away, peacefully, in Minneapolis on January 26, the unexpected result of heart failure. Erik was 39 years old.

Though physically challenged by muscular dystrophy from an early age, Erik never allowed it to define him. With the grit and determination of living life based on what he could do, he was fiercely independent and went after what he wanted—without asking permission or approval from others. When his parents wouldn’t buy him a video game in high school, for example, he found a job on his own to pay for it. With a drive to work and desire to engage in the world, he also earned an overnight radio show spot at St. Cloud State’s KVSC from 1998-2001. He loved the freestyle format, where he played a variety of music, from alternative rock, to reggae, to folk.

At Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Erik’s parents secured a dorm room next to the elevator, but Erik chose to take the stairs, instead. He had no interest in the easy route—he always believed that physical challenges kept him strong. Along with his will, Erik also possessed a strong voice. A member of his college debate team that competed nationally, he never refused a healthy argument. He would speak his mind and truth, without intending to hurt, and he was known to play devil’s advocate, just for the fun of it. Erik earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Augsburg and later another degree from the Institute of Production and Recording in 2007. With an interest in broadcasting, Erik revived Augsburg’s radio station, KAUG, where he served as general manager from 2001-2005 and amassed 150 volunteers to help run it. During his college years, his adventurous spirit took him overseas to Italy, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Greece, Jamaica, and Cuba. He loved to take road trips, sometimes solo, across the U.S. in any direction.

Erik was both confident and fearless but also kind, considerate, and caring with everyone. He drew people in with his sense of humor, beautiful smile, quick wit, and great laugh; and he loved to play cards and games with family. He was both an instigator and social organizer who would never fret over planning or perfection—he knew the most important ingredients at a party were the people.

Erik also spent countless hours chatting, mentoring, and inspiring others, including his younger cousins, especially when it came to artistic expression. People-focused and an astute observer of human nature, Erik recognized others’ talents and knew how to apply them in practical ways, to help make dreams a reality. Examples of this were the close relationship he had with his cousin, Taylor, whose musical career flourished because of what Erik taught him about booking shows and managing the business; and the time he spent in Boulder, CO, mentoring his cousin, Lauren’s, children, Rae and Sam, when he taught them guitar.

Along with helping others’ careers, Erik was a performer at heart and was at home on any stage. He played bass guitar with his Augsburg friends in the band Radical Chic, which performed hip hop, blues, metal, and funk. Meanwhile, he continued to focus on his own music production company, E-Funk Productions.

Following a tragic accident in 2015 when he lost the use of his right arm, it was a dark period in Erik’s life. While he dedicated himself to rebuilding what he could, physically, it was his circle of close supporters who recognized the remedy Erik needed to reignite his sense of purpose and passion for life—creative endeavors. With his cousin, Ana, the two established an art studio in Minneapolis, where Erik focused on learning to skillfully use his left hand. He disciplined himself to sketch several times each week. It was also during this time that he found his own condominium, downtown, close to retail and services nearby so he could manage his life as independently as possible.

In 2017, his friend and award-winning film producer, Philip Harder, further ignited Erik’s creative abilities by inviting him to join the production team for the film, Tuscaloosa, starring Stranger Things’ Natalia Dyer. Set in Alabama in the 1970s but entirely filmed in Minnesota over a two-week timeframe, Erik involved himself in nearly every aspect of the film’s creation including its musical score, as executive producer. Erik enjoyed promoting the film at numerous film festivals, both domestically and globally, and collecting many awards and recognition over several years. Erik had also been involved with two other Harder projects: Work in Progress and The Claw.

Erik was especially close with his only sibling, Paul. The brothers became best, lifelong friends through their mutual love of adventure and enterprise. While Erik was determined to live on his own, Paul supported him from a distance, wherever he lived.

While there are too many people to individually thank for their influence and support of Erik over the years, the Helgeson family would like to recognize Eli Schaden and his brother, Tony, who provided care and travel companionship, as well as dear, close friends, Ben and Maggie Katz.

Surviving Erik are his parents, Michael and Karel Helgeson of Sartell, brother, Paul (Julia Olmstead) Helgeson, nieces Greta, Flora, and nephew, Brodie, of St. Paul; grandparents Don (Sue Shepard) Helgeson of Sartell, aunts and uncles, Karen (Mark) Happe of St. Cloud, Greg (Deb) Schmit of Vadnais Heights, Bette (Nick Musachio) Schmit of St. Paul, Stefan (Lonnie) Helgeson of Edina, Scott (Laura Preves) Helgeson of Bloomington, Glen (Rita Penrod) Helgeson of Minneapolis, Jonathan (Tina Briones) Shepard of Denver, CO, Christopher Shepard of Duluth, and many cousins who adored Erik. Those he loved will remember him most for his open, accepting, optimistic attitude and good humor. Through his personal strength and positivity, the impact Erik made on the world, and others, is irreplaceable.

To honor Erik, visitation will take place at Miller-Carlin Funeral Home, St. Cloud, from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, February 4, followed by a visitation from 1-2 p.m. and celebration of life service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 5, First Love United Methodist Church, Sartell (with option to attend virtually at www.lovefirstumc.org). Masks are required. Memorials are preferred to Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, an organization especially important to Erik.