Exactly who was Eric Ezell Reaves? Let’s peek into his life to see what made him tick. To know Eric was to love him. At times he was a controversial person who enjoyed challenging others’ opinions; but at the same time, he was also jovial and loving with a witty sense of humor. Affectionately called the “answer man” by friends, he seemed always to have a solution or answer for any situation .
He valiantly battled cancer and a plethora of other illnesses for seven long years. A strong will to live kept him upbeat and always on the go. With Eric, there was always another challenge to overcome. Nothing was insurmountable! Often perceived as being arrogant, Eric was quick to inform others that he was confident, not arrogant.
Forever curious with a natural thirst for knowledge, Eric studied and thoroughly researched every task assigned to him. One can say he was a true erudite scholar. He excelled as a Business Management major at Purdue University Calumet.
A self-proclaimed “Mama’s Boy,” Eric’s daily mission was to make Mom happy. From a small child, he learned how to make Mom smile, whether with a bouquet of insect-filled dandelions or a big hug. Nothing was too good for his mom, whom he constantly pampered and presented with lavish gifts.
Generous to a fault, Eric was known to give everything away to anyone whom he felt needed a helping hand. If anyone expressed a need for something he owned, it immediately became theirs. While working in Chicago, he routinely purchased coats, clothing and shoes for his favorite homeless “buddies “and often took them to one of President Obama’s favorite South side restaurants (Valois) for a hearty meal. In addition, to help tide them over, he also gave them a monetary gift. As a supermarket manager, Eric frequently bought groceries for less-fortunate people who were unable to pay. Naturally, this practice didn’t go over well with the market’s owner.
Following his family’s relocation from the Tolleston area to Miller, Eric became a paper boy who was less interested in earning money than socializing and making friends. On his route, he met many people, some of whom are still friends today. On collection day, his parents accompanied him to the bank to pay his bill because Eric had hardly earned more than $2 for the entire week.
He possessed an unparalleled love for his family and his community. His love for family was only eclipsed by his reverence for Christ Jesus. Like an Energizer Bunny, he was always on hand to help with whatever needed to be done in the city. Describing himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” his first entrepreneurial endeavor was a jet ski business that he shared with his friend. The jet ski business soon morphed into an annual Beach Bum Bash which lasted for at least eight summers. Following the beach businesses, Eric became owner of a fine authentic Mexican food restaurant, then a mini mart. He always held a 9 to 5 job along with owning his businesses. His strong work ethic and thirst for new adventures led to an abundance of job opportunities.
Eric loved teasing, joking and lovingly playing with his nieces and nephews. He was fondly known as the silly uncle. He lovingly doted on his only child, Raymond to whom he imparted his wisdom and talents for photography and construction. Eric proudly boasted that his son was a far more talented photographer and craftsman than he. Both owed their carpentry and construction skills to Eric’s paternal grandfather Jasper, who taught by example the rudiments of fine craftsmanship.
Prior to his extensive illnesses, Eric was the quintessential ladies’ man, having married only once.
His romance with Miller began at an early age when his mother journeyed from their apartment in Westbrook, with Eric and his toddler brother Edmund in tow to Marquette Park Beach. Unbeknownst to his mom, the beach and beach house disallowed Black patrons; however, no one ever bothered them as they enjoyed the beach and its facilities. They continued, without incidence, to visit the beach on a regular basis.
Known for his extensive vocabulary, Eric attributed this to his mother who talked with him as though he were her contemporary while he was a mere child. After he and his parents, as strangers, relocated from St Louis to Gary, there were few adults around with whom his mom could converse, so she talked to and read stories to Eric. This is probably why Eric was so loquacious, feeling he had plenty to say, as he often freely expressed his opinion.
Eric was a consummate chef who enjoyed entertaining and showing off his culinary skills to family and friends. He lovingly prepared meals from the simplest to the fanciest, elegant gourmet. Like his father Ezell, he could be found grilling outdoors twelve months of the year----weather be damned. He was also a self-taught photographer and craftsman. His love for the finer things in life led to his hobby of collecting fine art and exquisite crystal. Whether you liked it or not you were frequently subjected to listening to Eric’s classical music. His taste in music, extended from Bach to Rock.
Eric was preceded in death by his father, Ezell and both sets of grandparents. He is survived by son Raymond of Indianapolis IN; mother Evelyn of Gary; sister Evette N Colston of McDonough, GA; brother Edmund (Trina) of Stockbridge, GA; sister Dr Erica L Reaves of Chicago, IL; nieces Tiffany and Amber of Atlanta, GA; nephew Aaron (Renee) of Manassas; VA; and nephew Anthony (Sherise) of Powder Springs, GA.
His family extended beyond biological kin to numerous neighborhood “family,” whom he affectionately referred to as “our cousins.”
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