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Eric Michael Shropshire

Memorial for Eric Michael Shropshire

Born in Austin, Texas on Jan. 10, 1956
Departed on Jan. 14, 2013 and resided in Austin, TX.
Service: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

Eric Michael Shropshire, 57, died Monday, January 14 at St. David's Hospital following years of illness involving many medications, dialysis and successful kidney and liver transplants. Eric never allowed illness to limit his love of life, his aspirations or his ability to help others.

Eric was born in Albany, Georgia, the son of Verona Baxter Shropshire and William T. Shropshire and "kid brother" to Willa and Rodney. Eric's father was the business manager of Albany State College and was good friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from their student days at Morehouse College.

When Eric was four years old, the family moved to Austin, Texas, where his father served as Vice-president of Finance of what was then Huston-Tillotson College and his mother was a social worker for Travis County. The Shropshires were long-time East Austinites, and Eric spoke proudly of having grown up on East 11th Street.

After graduating from Anderson High School and spending a year at Tennessee State, Eric returned to Austin to earn a Bachelor of Science in accounting and mathematics from Huston-Tillotson. He began his career in financial management directing field audits for a local accounting firm and later became a financial investigator for the Texas State Board of Insurance while Carol McClellan (now Strayhorn) was Insurance Commissioner. From there, Eric followed a life and career path that would take him across the country and halfway around the world.

In 1988 in Boston, Eric married Pamela Everhart, a graduate of the University of Texas. While Pam attended Harvard Law School, Eric worked in the administration of Governor Michael Dukakis as Director of School Audit Services for the Massachusetts Department of Education, where he was responsible for the integrity of a $3 billion budget, and where he directly supervised 50 professional and support staff. Pam was a classmate of Barack Obama, with whom Eric played pick-up basketball.

When Pam graduated from law school, Eric went to Harvard himself, not as a student but as Director of Financial Services in the Office of Sponsored Research. There he was responsible for overseeing $350 million in research awards. In this capacity, he often interacted with federal regulators and lawmakers as he kept abreast of pertinent regulatory issues. While working for Harvard, Eric completed an executive-education, comprehensive-management program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. He also served on the boards of Family Services of Greater Boston and the Museum of African-American History.

In the mid 90s, following the end of apartheid in South Africa, Eric went there as a representative of Harvard and a consultant guiding people who had never known freedom or economic opportunity. He met President Nelson Mandela, and came away from the experience enamored of the beauty of the country and the spirit of its people and with an even stronger enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.
When Eric and Pam's marriage began to unravel, Eric moved into their vacation home on Martha's Vineyard for a year, experiencing winter on a New England island in the Atlantic Ocean (an experience he would later repeat on the more remote island of Nantucket). Though their marriage did not last, Eric continued to speak admiringly of Pam and her many accomplishments.

In 1997, Eric began to gravitate back to Austin, introducing himself to native Austinite Thomas Henderson, the former Dallas Cowboy. For the past 12 years, Eric rented the garage apartment behind the home Thomas built for himself on Cotton Street. Of Eric's many friends, Thomas must be mentioned for all he did so that Eric could have a permanent place to live, especially during Eric's years of illness. Eric also cherished his friendship with Mrs. Willie Mae Kirk, whom he considered his second mother, and loved the entire Kirk family.

Once back in Austin, Eric spent several years in financial management, jumped into the dot-com boom (during which time he referred to himself as "emichael"), bought and sold real estate, and renovated and built homes. But in this part of his journey, Eric pursued his interests more than his career. He recently listed those interests as education, government, health care, housing, job creation, and minority business opportunities. He had a great passion for East Austin and jumped vigorously into debates on the future of its neighborhoods and particularly into the revitalization of East 11th Street.

Eric's greatest talent was recognizing talent and potential in others, and he spared no effort on behalf of any new acquaintance who could benefit from advice, encouragement or an introduction into his network of friends. This was especially true of young people and even more so of young minorities. When Eric met a young person, he would encourage, sketch out possibilities and open doors of opportunity. Just as Eric inspired the young, the young inspired him. Eric was a loving and much-loved uncle to his two nieces and two nephews, and loved to talk about their achievements.

Eric loved playing golf and watching football, basketball and baseball. Though the bright light of his life was shadowed by illness, his object was always to get better so he could live life to the fullest. After his successful kidney transplant, he continued to serve as a Dialysis Patient Ambassador. He experienced a great deal of pain over the years from dialysis, kidney and liver transplants and a recent infection around his artificial knee. But he spoke of his pain matter-of-factly and would aggressively reduce his pain medication so he could think clearly.

Eric was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Willa Shropshire Gaspard. He is survived by brother Rodney and Iris Shropshire and their sons, Brent and Marcus, all of Dallas, his niece Davia Shropshire Hicks of Round Rock, and his niece Monique Gaspard of Los Angeles.

Eric was raised in the Holy Cross Catholic Church in East Austin. In his adult life, Eric drew inspiration from "Living Faith," a Catholic quarterly of daily scriptural readings and meditations. When he found one he particularly liked, he would often share it with a friend.

As he requested, Eric's remains have been cremated. Eric asked his friends not to grieve but to celebrate his life. His family and friends have come together this Saturday, the 19th of January to do so.

As Eric recently said, "It's a celebration. It's a homecoming. Life's a journey. I've had a great life."

The family requests those wishing to make a memorial gift to consider supporting the Athletic Department at Huston-Tillotson University. To do so, make the check payable to "Huston-Tillotson University," write "Athletic Dept. in memory of Eric Shropshire" in the memo area, and mail it to HTU at 900 Chicon St, Austin, TX 78702.

The family thanks Eric's many doctors, nurses and professional caregivers, particularly those at the Methodist Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, and his many friends who were part of Eric's support team.

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