, Microsoft employee, Mensa member, wife, friend and unbelievable arts supporter, left us far too soon at only 47 years old, but she
also left a wonderful legacy of truly joyful investment in the arts that we would all do well to embrace.
I first met Erin three years ago when I was hired as the executive director of The Arts Partnership.
At the time, she was an integral part of our communications committee and served as secretary on our board.
was also involved with a grant project called ArtsLab.
and I spent long car rides together, driving to remote locations for multi-day training sessions.
We talked about everything we had in common, the ways we differed, and we became friends.
husband, Monte, and their two corgis, Ralphie and Winston, live in my neighborhood, so I crossed paths with them many times over the years, walking our dogs and enjoying the beauty of our streets.
But then I started to see Erin
and Monte were at the gallery and museum openings, the Performing Arts Series at Minnesota State University Moorhead
, the productions at all the various theaters in town, the symphony, Studio Crawl and so much more.
Erin was not an artist herself, but she was an avid supporter of artists and arts organizations.
And here's the thing: Erin
didn't just attend events.
generously put considerable resources into the organizations about which she
was most passionate.
skill set and her
quiet voice of reason extended benefits far beyond The Arts Partnership
I didn't go to Erin's house until about two years ago.
We met over a glass of wine to discuss the CSA (community supported art), a new program she
wanted to bring to The Arts Partnership
had heard about it on Minnesota Public Radio and was excited about the possibility of bringing it to Fargo.
I walked in and was astounded at the significant number of art pieces hanging in Erin
and Monte's house.
This was yet another way she
supported the arts.
knew when they had purchased each piece and who each artist was.
Did I mention she
was in Mensa?
used Microsoft's incredible matching dollars to support her
passion, and she
financially fed many non-profits.
carefully selected her
organizations and was diligent in keeping track of her
volunteer hours so that those dollars reached the organizations, too.
keep thinking about everything I learned from Erin
All the times she
invited me to lunch at the Microsoft campus, or as I like to call it, "Oz," for meetings to talk about an issue or opportunity for The Arts Partnership
never inserted her
opinion until I asked for it, and her
views were always thoughtful.
would typically sit through an entire board meeting without saying a word, but her
secretary's notes were impeccable and told the exact information necessary for moving forward.
could have boasted about her
investment in this community and the arts, but that wasn't her
wasn't flashy or loud; she
was a quiet presence who I and many others were lucky to call board member, colleague and friend.
could always be counted on for support and reason.
Our arts community needs more supporters like Erin
Buying tickets are one way to show support, but volunteering hours and skills, inviting others to attend events, giving additional dollars, and being available to listen and not judge are actually what we lost with Erin's absence.
My hope is that as an arts community we can gather in this time of terrific sadness and find a way to celebrate and continue the legacy Erin
Photo: Brad & Carol Schlossman, Monte & Erin Koffler
and Brad & Sue Bachmeier.