Eric Harper was born on January 30, 1950 in Argo, Illinois. He was the third child of seven to James and Cora Lee Harper who were united in marriage for 40 years. He had six siblings, Olivia, James Allen, Pamela, Spencer, Esther and Steven.
In his early youth, he confessed his faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized at Antioch Baptist Church in Argo, Illinois. There he participated in the youth choir. After high school he enrolled in the University of California Berkeley. In 1969 he was drafted out of his freshman year of college into the US Army. During his first two years in the military he had the opportunity to play basketball throughout Europe. He absolutely loved it. When his 2 year term of service ended he returned to Northern California to go back to UC Berkeley. However, Eric chose to reenlist about a year later. He rose to the rank of sergeant and served as an armorer, working on all weaponry. One year into his enlistment he went back home to Argo, Illinois on an extended leave. There he reunited with his childhood friend Barbara Burt. They had known each other since the age of 12 and Eric always boasted that one day she would be my wife. Within 30 days of reuniting Eric proposed to Barbara and they were married. To this union they were blessed with their firstborn Kimberly Harper, whom he lovingly nicknamed “Prudence”. He enjoyed taking her to the park, playing his music on his reel to reel while she sat on her beanbag chair and in later years watched her compete in track and field.
After serving a total of 6 years, Eric proudly retired with honors from the US Army in 1976. Following his retirement he served in the private sector in a number of positions then embraced a successful and industrious career as a sales representative for the last 25 years. Eric and Barbara’s family grew as they were blessed with their son Rashaad. Eric took Rashaad on long drives in search of the best hot dog and BBQ joints and also taught him basketball skills that he uses in coaching young people today. Seven years later they were blessed with their baby girl Brittney who brought him much joy. He sang to her on the way to school, followed her track and field events and was proud when she also excelled in sales being promoted to management. To this loving family God blessed them with Shon Faye whom Eric enjoyed cooking for, watching him play sports, loved it when Shon sang for him, and was proud to see him develop his own business. God also blessed the family with Eric Collins whom Eric was glad to see grow into a caring and loving father.
Some of the joys of Eric’s life included the family’s Wally World summer vacations where they explored various amusement parks in different states each year searching for the ultimate rollercoaster thrill. He enjoyed bike riding with his friends, watching and playing sports and even planted a rose garden for Barbara. In addition to being a hard working man, Eric had a passion for collecting and listening to good music like Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Bob Marley. He could often be found sitting on the balcony, aka “the boardroom”, with his brother from another mother, Christopher Stubblefield. His other passion was cooking delicious food, a skill which has been passed on to his children and grandchildren.
Yet Eric shared his love and generosity beyond his immediate family to extended family dear friends. He had some interesting nicknames from his friends and family including, “Daddy Eric”, “Papa”, “Uncle Money”, “Miracle Man”, “Super Hero”, “Candyman” (because he gave the kids in church sweet treats), and “Ike (I don’t need no help)”!
When Eric fell ill he fought multiple health battles to stay with his family. He kept fighting to see his children succeed and his grandchildren grow up. He stressed the importance of always being together. Toward the end he most enjoyed the company of his entire family. Eric wanted all of us to always have a smile on our faces and his last admonishment to us was, “to be strong, do the right thing, stay together, and everything’s gonna be alright.”
Eric accepted his wings as his breath of life was returned to his Heavenly Father on July 28, 2020 at Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, CA.
Eric Harper was preceded in death by his parents James and Cora Lee Harper; his two brothers James Alan Harper, Steve Harper; his sister Olivia Harper and his great grandson Christian Eric Harper.
He leaves to cherish his memory: His devoted wife of 49 years, best friend and soulmate Barbara Harper (Winnetka, CA); His children, Kimberly Harper-Eleri (Winnetka, CA), Rashaad Eric Harper (Angela) of Woodland Hills, CA, Brittney Harper (Valencia, CA), Shonzael Faye (Mission Hills, CA), Eric Collins (Atlanta, GA); His Aunt, Juanita Griffith (Argo, IL; His two sisters, Esther Harper (Atlanta, Georgia), Pamela Hall (Decatur, Georgia); His brother, Spencer Harper (Minneapolis, MN); Eleven grandchildren, Alexis Harper (CA),Jeric Branch (AZ), Derrell Robinson (SC), , Macari Collins (GA), Kyra Eleri (CA), Maya Eleri (CA), Jayden Harper (CA), Charles Eleri Jr. (CA), Bobby Graham Jr. (CA), Caleb Collins (GA), Hunter Collins (GA); Great grandchildren, Ray’shad Tate (CA), Prince Kilkenny (CA), and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and special friends.
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