Cover photo for Eric Oliver Allstrom's Obituary
Eric Oliver Allstrom Profile Photo
1940 Eric 2023

Eric Oliver Allstrom

September 18, 1940 — August 11, 2023

A loving tribute from his wife and daughters

Eric O. Allstrom, 82, of Decatur, GA and Leesburg, VA, died at home in Decatur on Friday, August 11. He suffered from end-stage cardiac and renal failure.

A fourth-generation Texan, Eric was born on September 18, 1940 to Mabel Draper Allstrom and Oliver Allstrom. He was raised by maternal grandparents Harvey and Mabel Draper in Houston, TX. His grandfather taught him that "no one is better than you, and you are no better than anyone else." This early lesson developed Eric's character into one of deep kindness and generosity.

Eric's life as husband to Julie, and his roles of father, grandfather, and friend mattered most to him. He was brave, unafraid of death, a defender of the weak, loyal and supportive to all he loved.

Eric described his childhood as idyllic. Thirty neighborhood children were constant pals in pick-up baseball games and dangerous forays into the bayou to swing on vines. There were dogs and cats at home, and his own pony at Uncle Hal's ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Eric's grandparents took him on countless road trips, sometimes to Mexico, and many times across the southern United States to visit relatives. His wanderlust began with those trips.

Eric made a couple of attempts at college, then moved to New York City for an adventure of a few months that resonated through his life; he returned to the city many times. After that first excursion, he found his way to Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, TX, where he developed life-long friendships, and completed a Bachelor's degree in history with a minor in geology. Post-graduation, he lived in London for almost two years in the 1960's, and there, too, forged life-long friendships. The UK remained one of his favorite places, and he traveled there as often as he could.

Returning from the first time in London, Eric made his home in Atlanta. He bought and renovated several houses in Inman Park. He was an early member of the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, and produced the Inman Park Advocator as a volunteer project. Eric and neighbors were involved in "Stop the Road" efforts, which resulted in the inability of the Georgia Department of Transportation to build the Presidential Parkway through historic Atlanta neighborhoods.

In his modest way, Eric described himself as a journeyman writer. For six decades, he worked variously as a reporter, magazine editor, catalog writer, movie critic, Rolling Stone magazine contributor, technical writer, corporate marketing manager, advertising and PR writer, head of an AOL newsroom, and global communications writer for a Swedish telecommunications company. His ability to write clear explanations of incomprehensible technology was matched by his wit and deft turn of phrase in non-technical writing. In his final year of life, he wrote fiction and memoirs for his beloved family.

As befits an accomplished writer, Eric was a consummate story-teller. His memory for long-ago names and details was astonishing. His stories could be poignant or hilarious or both, and any conversation with him was memorable and entertaining.

One of Eric's earliest and most enduring passions was music. Though his life as a performer was limited to school bands and church choirs, his appreciation for a wide range of music was a remarkably strong thread throughout all of his days. It was a point of great joy for Eric that he got to witness the birth of Rock & Roll, and he raised his daughters on the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. He always returned, however, to his greatest musical love: women, like Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, and Linda Rondstadt, who sing Jazz standards.

Eric claimed identity as an Episcopalian, a recovering alcoholic (over 40 years of sobriety), an Anglophile, a socialist Democrat, a survivor of ADD, and a fan of Western, noir, and French movies. As youngsters, his daughters enjoyed Saturday morning television with him, as he introduced them to MGM musicals from the 1930's, Looney Tunes cartoons, Tarzan and Dracula movies, swashbuckling classics, and hundreds of cowboy movies. Gary Cooper was the ideal, never John Wayne.

After two marriages that ended, Eric met Julie Swain Hanson, a newly divorced mother of two little girls, at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta. Neither intended to have a serious relationship ever again, but they fell in love and married on May 16, 1992 at Epiphany. Their honeymoon in Guatemala provided material for many true adventure stories.

In the late 1990s, Eric accepted a job offer from AOL in northern Virginia. He and Julie bought a neglected old farmhouse in Leesburg, VA. They renovated the house and gardens, an ongoing labor of love.

Eric and Julie's blended family of five daughters grew to be admirable and accomplished adults. Strongly connected as "The Sisters," they are Ingrid Anderson (John Wallace), Colleen Horner (Matthew), Della Taylor (Brent), Margaret Allstrom-Luttrell (Eli), and Grace Allstrom (David Frazier).

Grandchildren (in birth order) are Julian Kavanaugh, Hunter Anderson, Violet Kavanaugh, Fletcher Anderson, Nathan Horner, Gideon Taylor, Lily Beth Horner, Avery Horner, Alice Allstrom-Luttrell, and Vera Taylor.

His family will miss his loving kindness, his endless original musical creations, his curiosity and irrepressible silliness. He laughed often, and his joy invited others to join the fun.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, 2089 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307, on September 18, 2023 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a luncheon in the Parish Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to Epiphany's Memorial

Garden Fund, where Eric's ashes will be interred.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Eric Oliver Allstrom, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Family Hosted Memorial Service

Monday, September 18, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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