Eric L Bratten
August 10, 1957 – March 11, 2018
The pencil of a great artist stood still on Sunday March 11, 2018 when Eric Bratten, 60, of Washington Street, Keene NH passed away at the Keene Center, after developing complications from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
His parents, Toshie (Sato) and Douglas P. Bratten proudly welcomed their son into the world on August 10, 1957 in Winston-Salem, NC.
Eric graduated from Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School in Wilton NH in 1975 where he was known for his artistic talent and went on to serve his country for a brief period in the United States Army. He was a spiritual man and a participant in our political process, with moral standards that he held dear. Influenced by Kaiju and sci-fi films, his passion was painting and sketching large scale pieces. He was a true artist, dedicated to his craft, leaving a trail of gesso from Wilton to Keene.
Eric was also an integral part of the Monadnock Family Service’s ACT team in Keene where his absence will be greatly felt. “Chowda”, as he was affectionately known by some, made a huge impact there through his compassion, kindness and genuine loyalty to his friends and loved ones. He would do anything, for anyone. His door was always open and his kitchen was the focal point of gathering friends, where he would greet them, ready to listen to their worries, with a hot pot of cowboy coffee or a meal on the stove. His smile was contagious and he exuded love, even when he was having a hard day often saying “stop worrying, everything is going to be alright.”
He will be greatly missed by many, especially his father Douglas P. Bratten of Wilton NH; sister, Carolyn Boutwell Westerman, brother-in-law Dax Westerman, niece Kristen Eson and nephew Ben Boutwell and their father Bill Boutwell; and sister Irene Bratten Farrar, brother-in-law Steve Farrar and nieces Jordan & Julia Farrar. Known as “Wek" or “Wekkie" from when he was a kid, he was much loved by his Aunt Libby & Uncle Drew and Uncle David & Aunt Judy and his many cousins. The family would like to kindly recognize Anna B. and the MFS ACT Team who were a solid presence in his life and meant so much to him.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday May 20th 2018 at the MAPSA Barn, 64 Beaver Street, Keene NH at 11:00 a.m.
For those who wish, donations may be made in Eric’s memory to the Monadnock Family Services ACT Team, 64 Main Street, Keene NH 03431.
- Memorial Service Sunday, May 20, 2018
- Memorial Service will be held in the Spring at a date and time to be announced
Eric L Bratten
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June 15, 2018
I'll never forget the fun times we had in school. Those memories will never fade. Rest in peace, Eric.
Carolyn Boutwell Westerman
March 28, 2018
Eric, you were my 1st best friend. We had a blast exploring Gpa & Gma's huge back yard as kids...it was our wonder-world! We bonded. As adults, we understood each other, and spoke the same language.
Now you are gone.
Dear brother, do you know that you've left behind the remarkable impression of YOU, stamped on all of us still here? I wonder if you were aware of what superior attributes you carried within you while you walked your path.
Giving, sweet, thoughtful, protective, empathetic...that's you! As a young man you wanted to give a co-worker $300, she was distressed about not having enough. Or when you made sure the kids had happy Christmases even though you could barely afford it. Or the antique perfume bottle you dug up and gave me because you knew it would make me happy...I've treasured it all these years!
As teens, you forbade me going front-stage into the mob at an Elton J concert, you felt it was unsafe. You warned me about drugs as I went off to college. Recent talks often turned to making sure I was spiritually well, walking a good path.
When a loved one felt anxious...you'd try to calm them even though you yourself worried so much. Schizophrenia made that worse for you. Dealt a heavy hand, you still didn't complain. Nor be bitter, critical, judgmental...it was as if you were above that behavior. Dad said you were serious as a little boy and had dignity even back then.
Your humor was wonderful...how many folks do you suppose you made laugh? I chuckle now, recalling the funny cartoons you'd randomly draw. Your light-up-a-room smile and laughter were infectious.
Quiet strength...sometimes you wouldn't say much, but when you did your words were truth! In a hit-the-nail-on-the-head kind of way.
If life is about peeling away the bad parts of ourselves, honestly, you were one who seemed to have little to pare away compared to most. You are one of the best souls I have known.
I picture you now... happy...and in a more glorious place, more fitting for you.
March 22, 2018
Wek is gone, really gone. Hard to believe. My rational mind says it is so, but something inside still doesn’t believe it.
He had a great sense of humor. Watching Monty Python with him was a treat. I recall the time when Carolyn was devastated when he told her that John Lennon’s real name was Mose Allison—cruel brother—she was such a Beatles fan. His cartoons cracked up his class-mates—the boys, anyhow.
Eric was born with an eye for line and form. He knew how to do three dimensional drawing early on; most kids at that age draw only in two dimensions. I taught physics lab at Wake Forest University. Somehow one of his drawings got in with my papers and a student saw it and asked about it. I told him my son did it—Wek was seven at the time—the kid said it was better than he could do.
R. Crumb and Mad Magazine were his early mentors. After the movie 2001, space art was his passion. Then came schizophrenia and the monsters, somewhere in his mid teens. They were meticulous and done with grace, tho. I believe they didn’t leave until shortly before his death. But for the past couple of years or so he did very quick studies of religious themes.
In spite of that affliction he remained a generous, giving, uncritical soul. Shortly before his death, he apologized to me for his misbehavior. I told him he was one of the most decent men I had ever known. He had little to apologize for. I meant it.
It was extraordinary how his features changed as he approached death. He appeared more like the man he would have been had not that hellish thing possessed him. But he’s free of that now. In the funeral home I saw a sophisticated, handsome, gentleman with a touch of his ancestral Samurai. So strange.
March 21, 2018
Eric, when I was young you were my only boy cousin. Every trip to North Carolina was special, but the times when all the cousins got together were extra special, and the times I got to spend with you the best of all.
I remember us working frantically to rearrange Grandpa’s homemade Christmas candies on the tray after we stole a couple, but it didn’t look the same. I remember the summer in the Sixties when we spent the entire time perfecting the stupidest possible pronunciation of “Bummer”. Most of all I remember when we looked at each other and busted out laughing at our ridiculous selves, the way your face crinkled up and it was like steam started escaping from your nose before you exploded.
I remember the time at the beach when all the cousins waded out on the inland, “Sound” side of the island, on the gooey mud, knee-deep in calm water, shrieking as mostly imaginary crabs tugged at our toes. When Grandma arrived we all sloshed towards shore and you were in the lead when suddenly you cried out and stopped. A broken bottle we had all waded past, buried in the mud unnoticed, sliced open your foot. You were very brave about it but you were bleeding and there was talk of stitches and tetanus shots and it struck me how absolutely unfair it was that you were so singularly struck down.
I wish I had sat down next to you more recently than half a lifetime ago. I wish I had found a way to have shared or eased your burdens. I wish you had come out to California some time. I loved your art even when it disturbed me, and I wish I was looking at it now, with you waving your arms again and explaining it to me.
In your face I can see that laughing boy cousin who had more to teach me than I knew. The part of my soul that comes from you uplifts me and reminds me of the good in all of us, and reminds me to open my eyes to the wonders of the world around us. Fare well, I love you now and always.
March 20, 2018
Dear Carolyn and family, I send my love and sympathy. I am sorry that I never met your beloved son and brother. After having read the farewell messages, I feel as if I know him, a kind, gentle, loving soul. I hope to see his drawings and to hear more stories about this man who loved so deeply and who, in turn, was loved so dearly. Eric’s earthly pain must have been great, but he obviously rose above his anguish and left a memory that will be cherished. “Sail on silver (boy)...” and find your peace. With love to my daughter-in-law, Carolyn, and her family, Janyce Westerman
March 19, 2018
I want to quote a few words your grandmother wrote about you many years ago - it was in 1958 and you were just five months old.
"Our little bundle of sunshine is more of a delight than ever. He does such funny little things. He sits in his high chair while we have dinner - between Dad and Cindy and puts on his own little private show for his own entertainment. When you come home he'll probably stick out that lower lip in his funny little way he has and gaze long and hard for a while. I do declare, I know he's the best baby I've ever been around."
And despite all you had to deal with throughout your life you remained "the best" in so many ways. Your thoughtfulness, your kindness, your interest in and love for others. It was always there. I have so many beautiful memories of you - from your first Christmas when you were old enough to give gifts and you gave multiple gifts to some people because giving was so much fun - to your excitement in advance of the annual beach trips - to your many kindnesses to the many younger cousins - to you and John swiping some of Grandpa's homemade candies, thinking he'd never notice if you cunningly rearranged them - to your big grins when our families were able to reunite. I'm so glad we had that last reunion in November - you helped make it extra-special.
The Mexicans celebrate The Day of the Dead with delightful customs. They believe that all people experience two deaths - the day they are born and leave their lord, the day they cease breathing and leave this earth. However, The Day of the Dead is celebrated to avoid the third possible death - the day that no one remembers you, the day that all traces of you are forgotten. You will not be forgotten, Eric. Be at peace.
Aunt Libby and Uncle Drew
March 19, 2018
This is from your cousin Sue. I'm a Vastano, though my last name is Vaughan now.
It's a peaceful feeling, knowing that you have left behind all your hard struggles. But you always did bring peaceful feelings to us, you know? Time spent with you was special that way. Can I just remind you of one particular time that's always meant so much to me?
I used to love sitting with you in that little breakfast nook at the back of Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen. You would doodle and doodle, and the most amazing things would come out of your pen. Just simple black and white line drawings, but they came out full of life and feeling. I wanted to do that! But I couldn't draw a thing. So you taught me how to draw a smiling worm crawling out of a tin can. I drew that happy little worm a thousand times as a kid, and just now I drew it again. I still know how and it still makes me feel so happy. See there - you did it again. You have an infinite gift for making people feel happy.
Now you take with you the happiness you so deserve, Eric. And feel the peace and love we are all sending your way.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss
March 19, 2018
Dear Eric, you were always so kind to your younger cousins, when we tagged along after you. I remember when you were visiting the house in NC, and you set up to paint in the basement. I was about six years old, hovering around in fascination with your art, so you let me paint too. I didn't know then, what you were going through, though maybe it came out a bit in the strange monsters you used to draw, back then? But through it all, you were always gentle and kind. You bore such heavy burdens in life, with such grace, and will always be remembered with love.
March 18, 2018
Dear sweet Uncle Eric. You were such a kind, sweet soul. I don’t think I ever remember you saying an unkind thing about anyone, even about some who weren’t as kind in return....that really speaks to what a generous, forgiving and gracious soul you were. You had the best laugh, like a little boy who was both delighted and mischievous. Every time I see rubber bats, Elvira or rolled cigarettes I think of you. Ben and I remember one Christmas when you handed us each a huge paper bag filled with King Size candy bars of all kinds....a 7 years old dream come true! And this really was such a good illustration of how you were....you just wanted everyone to be delighted.
You are finally free from the burdens of your earthly body and I feel delighted in the hope that you are whole now and reunited with sweet Grammy and also with your Grampa, who I know was so very dear to you.
I love you Uncle Eric.
March 18, 2018
Eric you are missed.
No more will I pick you up at Davy’s to travel to Wilton for birthdays, Thanksgivings and Christmases—year after year. Season after season. No more turning off the music so you don’t hear voices as we travel around the lake and over the mountain. No more snowstorms. No more rain. No more gray days. No more nights. No more darkness. No more voices. No more pain. No more rolling and smoking, rolling and smoking. No more jars of instant coffee. No more vices. No more demons. No more turmoil. No more painting. No more drawing. No more pens. No more pencils. No more boards. No more layers and layers and layers of gesso—like a life struggling to be heard. Spoken, silenced and spoken again. No more politics. No more religion. No more crosses. No more guilt. No more struggles. No more sadness. No more talks. No more boots. No more hidden dollars. No more thoughtful gifts (that always meant so much to your sister and I). I thank you for that. No more whimsical wisdom. No more smiles. No more grins. No more disruptions. It’s time to lay down the paintbrush. It’s time to stop drawing. No more morphine. No more voices. No more pain.
Eric, for over 30 years we have traveled together. Through woods and fields. Streets and ditches. Mud and black flies. Flowers and thorns. The good and the bad. And throughout our journey you have shown me what it means to be a man. To listen. To slow down. To always take a second look. Not to judge. Not to criticize. Not to boast. You have shown me what it truly means to have heart. To care. To comfort. To sacrifice. In this short life you were dealt a shitty hand, but you played it through. And as I came to know you over the years—you showed me a heart of a warrior! Be in peace now Eric. Comfort in the arms of your mom. And rejoice in the presence of our Lord. You are a special man and I am thankful to have walked with you. Be free. No more voices. No more pain.
Until we meet again.
Irene Bratten Farrar
March 18, 2018
Brother I will miss you. I can’t imagine a world with you not in it. I’ll always remember how you would be concerned about your friends over yourself; your discussions with Dad, Steve and I about art, music, space, movies and any other number of things; thoughtful gifts to me and the girls over the years—beautiful offerings from someone whose life was so difficult; your paintings, drawings, jars of gesso, rolling cigarettes, swigging coffee, meatball subs at Subway, trips to Walmart, singing Elton John in the car last fall, mouthing the words to a Beatle’s song in the emergency room when we thought we lost you; Pacific Rim monsters; Alien; carrot cake; cardboard cookies, you playing guitar; driving me to cheerleading practice in your Oldsmobile Cutlass; red framed glasses; playing Monopoly when we were young; "the old squeeze play", you tickling me; the beach; and so many more things I’ll be thinking about in the days to come. I love you Eric.
March 18, 2018
My big old sweet cousin Eric…the one everyone called Wek. I’ll confess, I never knew why but it just seemed right. Fly free sweet man. It is your turn to be pain-free, to hug your momma again, and chill with all your art supplies while watching over the rest of us.
My name is Annie. I am toward the bottom of the cousin list. There were so many at once there for a while. Christmas or summer holiday was fun when the kids bunked together though. Our grandparents had a lovely house where we all used to meet up to visit. Grandpa would put out what seemed like the world’s biggest hammock. Being the youngest for a while, I got the “opportunity” to sit out and observe the goings on of the cousins in said hammock. Now everyone will have different memories of these days but one of my brightest is of Eric.
Eric was the epitome of Ferdinand to me. We would all jostle, err fight, for a spot in that darned hammock. Sweet Eric, while sometimes wanting a spot, sometimes was happy to “sit just quietly” and watch the silly younger ones duke it out for something that really wasn’t so important in the long run. Whether it was with his drawing supplies or just watching quietly he was still there. And my being quite young made it especially fun, as sometimes it would end up that the two of us never made it into that hammock. He would be happy to explain his drawings to me though, even the ones just taking form in his mind. What patience he had with me! While everyone else got a spot in the hammock I got the best spot next to my Ferdinand, my Eric, and a nice hug to boot.
Last fall I went to a family reunion. I am so very happy that he did come over and that I got to see and speak to him again. Most of all I was happy to get my own personal hug again after all those years. I will miss you sweet Eric but I am so very happy you are free from pain. I know you will “sit just quietly” watching the rest of us tumble around down here until it is our turn for that big hug.
March 18, 2018
Remembering Eric as a kind soul with an amazing talent.
Peace for you Eric.
Loving memories for your family.
FROM THE FAMILY
IN THE CARE OF