July 16, 1931 – January 23, 2020
If it were up to Erica, this remembrance wouldn’t be “necessary,” as she was typically uninterested in calling attention to herself. But all of us who knew and loved her want to honor her life and memory with the tributes and recognition she richly deserves. Born in Austria in 1931, Erica and her family were forced to emigrate in 1938 as Hitler’s long shadow fell on their beloved Vienna. They moved to the US and lived in New York, West Virginia and Virginia before settling in Miami, Florida in 1945, which is where Erica finished high school at the age of 16, excelling even through the many moves and in a new language.
In 1951 she graduated from the University of Miami at age 19 and married Helmut Lorch, all in the same week! Erica taught kindergarten and elementary school until her retirement in 1983. Many times over the years, Erica would meet former students who remembered her fondly and wanted to introduce their children to their favorite teacher. She subsequently volunteered in the neonatal intensive care unit at Miami Children’s Hospital for the next 23 years, setting a record as their longest serving volunteer.
Erica and Helmut (“Tumleh”) enjoyed their life in Miami, raising three wild-haired daughters in the place that Erica had seen as paradise when she arrived as a teenager. Helmut convinced Erica (who was typically somewhat reluctant) to take many trips over the years, often to reunite with family in Europe, and she always ended up having a wonderful time! Hiking in the mountains and hills of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Italy, Spain and other places, she would always stop at least once to look around in wonder and say “Breathe the air!” as if the air in that place were somehow rarefied.
Music was an integral part of Erica’s daily life – she listened to it from dawn to dusk. She enjoyed many types of music: opera, folk music, musicals and especially classical music, and she and Helmut attended many concerts over the years.
Erica moved to Chapel Hill in 2006 following the loss of her husband, and made a new home for herself in the neighborhood where her daughters and their families reside, taking an interest in all the neighbors, their children and pets. She loved reading and volunteering in her granddaughter Hannah’s classroom, and for many years she walked at University Mall, where she shared her megawatt smile with the friends she made on her rounds.
It used to be said of Erica’s mother that she never met a stranger. So it was with Erica. Wherever she lived, worked or volunteered, people knew and warmed to Erica. She knew everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries and never failed to send a card.
When Erica moved to Carol Woods Retirement Community in 2012, she quickly made new friends and her “card” list grew. She lived independently (and quite happily) until declining health required a move to the skilled nursing building, where she made friends with the exceptional team of caregivers who treated her with love, patience, humor and an appreciation for her special habits and preferences. As she grew older, Erica’s sense of humor sharpened and she loved a good joke, turn of phrase, or the gentle teasing of her family. Her fondness for doing puzzles lasted until the last weeks of her life. Erica believed in using her time well, in caring for others, in humility and in the goodness and value of being kind. She will be missed every day.
Erica is survived by three daughters: Nina (Andy Mulcahy), Claire (Fred Stang), and Lorilei (Kim Beer); her grandchildren Hannah and Ethan Stang (Danielle), and Gina and Nikolai Beer; and her great granddaughter Addison Stang. In lieu of flowers (but please buy yourself a nice bouquet!), donations can be made to the Carolina Community Garden https://ncbg.unc.edu/outreach/cccg/ or to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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February 5, 2020
I knew Erica first as a client and then as a friend. She was a very frugal woman and there was a running joke about it being time for her to buy a winter coat. It was a way we teased each other each time we spoke. I loved Erica‘s gentle sense of humor, her brilliant smile, and how she always asked me about my family, and my octogenarian father with genuine interest. She was a remarkable yet simple woman and a light has gone out of this world and risen up to heaven.
February 4, 2020
What can Isay about Erica. She was the best friend. Our talks,walks and most all pur Hugs. I knew Wrica for over 40 yrs and it was a wonderful relationship. She volunteered in therapy department also. We both loved the children. I miss her but know she is with Helmut the love of her life. ......