You’ll always be present, Eric.
I met Eric Janssen when I was just a baby digital journalist staring at three monitors — one for editing content in the newspaper CMS, one for editing content in the web CMS, and one for everything else. The room we worked in had no windows. It was for digital operations, but it smelled like old newspapers.
Our editor was the former photo editor. He knew nothing about the Internet and was as honest and humble as can be about it. Eric and I loved Dennis.
Times were dark in The Commercial Appeal newsroom. There were “black Fridays,” but on those black Fridays there was no shopping. The newsroom was filled with black balloons. If it was your last day at work, you would be escorted to your desk to pick up your belongings.
The environment in our little closet was quite different. Eric filled the room with music (loud at times — just ask David Waters), ideas, curiosity and positive energy.
Eric invited me to explore my own creativity and let me know it was OK to open a door to the unknown. He did this for a lot of people. He allowed us all to be explorers.
For the 50th anniversary of rock ’n’ roll, Eric encouraged me to go to the reunion celebration at Sun Studio in Memphis, where I shot video for the first time. He helped me edit the video, then we created a fancy interactive to celebrate the anniversary. We used Flash, of course: It was 2004, after all.
A little over a year later, I was finishing up graduate school and heading back to D.C., where I had landed my dream job at The Washington Post. Eric was the reason I had the guts to make this move. And, even though I moved miles away, Eric and I remained friends, living in separate cities, but never disconnected.
Part of Eric will always be present in my life, but I am going to miss so much about him. I downloaded Eric’s 2309 Instagrams yesterday and today I went through them all. This finally got my head clear enough to write. The photos were a reminder of how full his life was and what I loved most. Some of those things I wanted to share with you.
His smile and laugh.
His city — Memphis.
My city — NYC.
“Trust Me” menu at Sugarfish.
Those t-shirts from UnknownArtistApparel.
Finding beauty in abandonment.
Live a Great Story.
Design thinking and prototyping.
Blinding beach sunsets.
Two slices and a diet Snapple from Joe’s.
Make the most of every moment.
The Memorial Service for Eric Janssen’s life will be at 2 p.m., Sunday Oct. 22 at Hope Presbyterian Church in Memphis. A gofundme was established to help with the financial burden of the three wonderful, smart children Eric left behind to do their own exploring. Please consider helping them live as great of a story as Eric has. Donate here.
Love you Eric.