I first met Eric Lundquist in the Fall of 1976. We were both graduate students and aspiring newsmen at the then Boston University School of Public Communications (SPC). Like most 27 year olds, we were both a little crazy and rebellious.
We connected immediately. We were full of vinegar and ready to make our marks in newspapers. The last couple of months at BU were a drink-a-thon and it was during that time he met his wife, Sherry, a BU undergrad. We had a blast.
Eric passed away Sept. 5 after suffering a heart attack on Aug. 30 while cycling in his hometown of Andover, Mass. His death was a stunner. At 64, he appeared to be the picture of health and in the prime of life.
There will be a memorial service for Eric Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. at The South Church in Andover, Mass.
Eric and I worked and played together, but quite simply, we understood each other. Those close to Eric after he died told me how he appreciated my loyalty. Right back `atcha, Eric. He always called me his “pal.”
That was vintage Eric. He embraced new technology trends, but was always plain spoken. He shunned buzzwords and dispensed with the fluff. After all, it was our jobs to cut through the hype.
A few beers with him meant great conversation and laughs. He was steady and unflappable, the melancholy Swede as he liked to say. He took immense pride in his Swedish heritage.
His father “Stig” emigrated from Sweden and Eric regaled his friends with tales of his dad’s time working cruise ships that eventually landed him in the U.S. Eric had a picture on his office wall of a hole-in-the wall bar where Stig played his ukelele. I met Stig only once and that was at our graduation from SPC. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Eric didn’t have a pretentious bone in his body. He was an American original, able to take on the high and mighty in technology because he was comfortable in his own skin. Neither of us were easily impressed, but that’s not to say we didn’t like many of our sources and contacts in the technology industry.
His dry wit, engaging personality and infectious grin were legendary. As one colleague said, Eric liked to hold court. That’s why he was so successful with the creation of the PC Week Corporate Partners. He was great at schmoozing CIOs, establishing relationships and bringing people together. He put people at ease.
As tributes continue to pour in, it’s not surprising that many reporters and editors say they owe their careers to Eric. He loved bootstrapping and supporting side projects that in a sense were visionary – PC Week Radio and Zcast.tv to name two. They were ahead of their time.
Like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Eric and I crisscrossed the country and enjoyed some unique adventures. One memorable trip in 1998 (I think) was on the maiden voyage of the U.S.S Grace Hopper, an Aegis class Arleigh Burke destroyer built in Bath, Maine. The 12-hour journey started on a frigid sun-drenched day in late November and lasted well into the starry night.
We trekked to Silicon Valley for company visits; Vegas for Comdexes and Chili Cook-offs; New York where ZD HQ was located; Redmond to grill (or at least annoy) Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer; and Austin to hold forth with Mr. Dell.
Eric loved all of this, but did not take his career terribly seriously. He knew what was important and that was his family and a few close friends. He didn’t seek attention or adulation, but got it anyway.
Eric and I were yin and yang. He was level headed and hard to ignite. I was usually turning in multiple directions at once, frantically chasing down promising news leads. He was always supportive of my career and the success of others.
The relationship worked magnificently. At PC Week, I was the news leader while Eric oversaw features and the lab. We rocked and we rolled.
While we were always coming in and going out of each other’s lives, we never lost touch. He went to the Dedham Transcript and I to the Lowell Sun following graduate school in 1977, but we reconnected in early 1980 at the Boston bureau of Fairchild Publications. He was the staff reporter for Electronic News and I for newly launched MIS Week.
We competed for New England tech stories. His boss once said he could get me fired for unintentionally feeding one of Eric’s yet to be published scoops to a local newspaper. Eric would have none of it and shrugged it off after a few days of not speaking to me.
After that, Eric served as editor-in-chief of Electronic Business (EB) magazine (ironically, I was the last chief editor of Electronic Business when Reed Business Information killed it in 2006). I had gone off to start the news department at fledging newsweekly PC Week in 1983. After EB, he moved to Long Island and CMP now part of United Business Media to run Electronic Buyer’s News and then launch Electronic World News.
We reconnected once again when I left PC Week in 1988 and went the CMP newsweekly Computer Reseller News and worked in its Needham office. I always made a point of dropping in on Eric when I visited CMP’s headquarters in Manhasset, Long Island. We always laughed about the publishing craziness happening around us.
We usually saw eye to eye on most things and even wore the same outfits, traditional blue blazers and Khaki trousers. Fashion plates we weren’t and more than one contact asked if we were twins.
That CMP union ended when I rejoined PC Week in January, 1991. The following year, I recruited Eric to come to PC Week as editor, the number two position at this large newsweekly with an editorial staff close to 100. That he was a notch above me on the masthead didn’t matter. I loved working alongside him again although we occasionally sparred on decisions.
After a year or so, we settled into a groove, confiding in and bouncing decisions off one another. In 1995, Eric was named editor-in-chief and me, editor.
Over the years, the fortunes of trade journalism declined. Eric and I bounced around a bit, but always managed to land on our feet. Work became a less important connection as the warmth of a deep friendship took over. Actually, that warmth was always there.
We both loved cycling. Breakfasts at the Agawam Diner were a quarterly fixture on our calendars. We took in occasional rounds of bad golf. And we caught up every 2-3 weeks or so on the phone to rap about our kids and now, Eric’s first grandchild, Calvin.
Neither of us could pull the trigger on retirement although we talked about it a lot. I suspect he wanted to stay in the game as I do today.
Eric, allow me to speak to you directly. “You’ll always have a place in my heart. Good bye, my true “pal.” I miss you so bad it hurts.
Other tributes to Eric
Eric Lundquist, pioneering tech journalist, dies at 64 (InformationWeek)
Remembering Eric Lundquist (Michael Miller)
Eric Lundquist, former eWeek editor-in-chief, dies at 64 (eWeek, formerly PC Week)