Obituary: Joseph Austin Erickson, Jr.

Great-grandfather, clinical psychologist, priest

Joseph Austin Erickson, Jr., a clinical psychologist in Claremont and a former rector of St.. Mark’s Church in Upland (1954-1963), died December 28 at his home at Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Pomona. He was 98.

His family included his wife, Catherine Henley-Erickson; daughters Jennifer Erickson Cornish (Rick Cornish), Elizabeth Erickson Koehler (Paul Koehler), and Margaret Erickson (Doug Erickson); son John Erickson (Joanne Erickson); stepdaughter Suzanne LaFetra Collier (David Collier); stepson Michael LaFetra; seventeen grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren, with two more expected this year.

His family also includes several nieces and nephews and the extended family of his Swedish cousin Thomas Ericksson.

His son, John Erickson, died in 2009, and sisters Nancy Murphy and Carolyn Sutcliffe both died in 2022.

Erickson, who earned a doctorate in psychology from the School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in 1966, was for many years a clinical psychologist in private practice in Claremont, working with individuals, families, children, and educators. He deeply enjoyed his work; he began his practice in about 1965 and finally retired in 2010 at the age of 86.

He was also a pastoral counselor at St. Martha’s Parish and School in West Covina, which is now closed, from 1964 to 1971, and a chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital (1963-1964). At the beginning of his ordained ministry, he was a curate at All Saints, Pasadena from 1951 to 1953.

He was born on April 30, 1924 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Esther Reese Stevens Erickson and Joseph Austin Erickson, Sr., a banker and son of Swedish immigrants.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1946 and became a stockbroker. He moved to California and soon discerned a calling to the priesthood. He returned to the East Coast in 1951 to attend the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge (now Episcopal Divinity School at Union in New York). Bishop Suffragan R. A. Heron of Massachusetts ordained him to the deaconate January 6 of that year. He relocated to California, where he was ordained to the priesthood on July 15, 1961, by Bishop Suffragan Donald Campbell of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

In addition to his work as a psychologist and priest, Erickson was a licensed pilot who flew all over the country in rented small planes, and became a flight instructor at two local airports, Brackett Field in La Verne and Cable Airport in Upland.

He donated his body to Loma Linda University for research purposes.

A memorial celebration is planned for Saturday, May 6 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Harvard University (class of 1946) or to Mt. San Antonio Gardens’ Magnolia Grove Fund.


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