Eric was born in Wichita, Kansas to Donna E. (Whitwam) and Theodore L. “Tex” Roembach. He lived in Norwich, Kansas until the accidental and untilely death of his father in 1961. His family then moved to Newton, Kansas, where he came of age and graduated from Newton High School. Those were years of basketball, fast cars, as well as a bit of mischief with his older brother, Dan.
He attended the University of Kansas, but was drawn to flying. In 1969, he followed his father’s footsteps into the Army, where he became an expert helicopter pilot. A particular distinction involved being selected to fly the theater commander, General Creighton Abrams, during the Viet Nam conflict. The family was not aware until his death that he was awarded the Bronze Star. He was seriously injured in a helicopter crash resulting from engine failure, and was discharged from the service in 1971. For nearly 20 years, Eric was haunted by his war experiences. At age 40, he demonstrated a different kind of heroism by facing his trauma.
Eric loved life in San Francisco following his service. One of his best adventures involved working for Winterland with the Grateful Dead during the 1980’s and ‘90’s. He enjoyed traveling with the band, meeting many interesting people, until a second serious spinal injury brought this chapter to a close. His pain progressively restricted his life; he lived with pain on a daily basis that would have overwhelmed a lesser man.
He met Natasha Dawn Joyce Shafer there. They were married 1994, and moved back to Kansas to be closer to family. While they divorced in 1997, she remained his closest friend as his life became more solitary.
Eric was devoted to his family, and near death spoke of family being the most important thing in his life. He was particularly close to his mother, and often reminded her that she was the best mother ever. She, in return, was so proud of Eric. He loved sharing family stories, and spending time with his siblings. He was also close to his grandparents, seven aunts and two uncles, and maintained an active interest in the lives of his four nieces and two nephews.
Eric maintained his fierce independence to the end, always looking for the positive to focus on, always wanting to help others rather than be helped. He continued his interest in aviation and basketball. He had a wide ranging curiosity. The companionship of his pets was a particular source of pleasure; we particularly remember his exceptionally well trained dog, Sasha.
We are grateful that Eric died peacefully, sharing memories of his first car, his pain at last relieved. We will keep him in our hearts, and cherish the time we had with him. May he rest in peace and glory.
Survivors include his mother, Donna Roembach, Prairie Village, KS; his older brother Dan Roembach and his wife, Francine Podenski, Walnut Creek, CA; his younger sister, Jeanine Roembach/Clark and her husband, Gregory Roembach/Clark, Fargo, ND; his younger brother Theodore “Ted” Roembach, Prairie Village, KS, and his youngest sib, his sister Kimberly Roembach Ratliff and her husband Jon Ratliff, Prairie Village, KS; nieces and nephews Haley Roembach Scharf, Emily Roembach-Clark, Ben Roembach-Clark, Eric Nicholas “Nick” Ratliff, Claire Baumann-Roembach, and Hannah Ratliff.
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