Arnold Tedemen Erickson passed away on January 18, 2020 at his home in Greenspring Village surrounded by loved ones. He was born on June 16, 1919 to Robert Nicholas and Kaia Bredeson Erickson in Flandreau, South Dakota and was the last surviving child of eight brothers and one sister. He was preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and loving wife of 60 years, Josephine.
Family was very important to Arnold. He always remembered his roots and was very proud of his Norwegian heritage. He was a devoted father, grandfather, uncle and friend. Arnold leaves behind his daughter, Betty J. (BJ) Friedery, his son, James A. Erickson (Anne), his grandsons, Cole and Austin (Valery) Erickson and many admiring nieces and nephews.
Arnold was truly a self- made man. After surviving a vagabond childhood, he graduated from Egan High School in 1938. He began his military career in 1940 when he enlisted in the US Army, National Field Artillery. In 1941, he left Hawaii two days prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and spent the next 40 months in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines during WWII. While in the Philippines, Arnold’s unit was charged with rebuilding the telephone system in the northern part of Manila as GEN McArthur wanted to broadcast his “I Have Returned Message” from Manila through the radio station located in the Lingayen Gulf.
After returning to the States in 1945, Arnold married Jo and moved to Spokane, Washington until he was discharged in December 1946. In the fall of 1947, he started pre-law at Gonzaga University where he received a Presidential appointment as a commissioned officer in the newly-formed Air Force. He was assigned to McDill AFB in Tampa, FL. followed by SAC Headquarters in Omaha, NB, where he was able to attend night school, graduating from the University of Nebraska with his BS degree.
His military assignments took him to Morocco and Biloxi, MS., eventually returning to the Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB in Omaha as the Telecommunications Plans Officer for the Strategic Air Command. In 1961, he was selected to attend the Armed Forces Staff College which required an additional three year commitment. Although he only had thirteen years as a “regular officer”, he had over six years before, during and after WWII, so he met the minimum number of years to retire. He elected to retire in October, 1961 with the rank of Major.
With extensive experience in telecommunications, he was quickly hired by International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) as Deputy Director, Field Operations with the Data & Information Systems Division in Paramus, NJ. This move proved to be the family’s favorite.
While working at ITT, he was asked to meet the President of ITT at a secret location for a top secret assignment. At that meeting, he was introduced to two FBI agents. Arnold was told that they had solid evidence that there was a Russian espionage agent working in the office next to him, but they were unable to determine how he was gathering information. The agents asked him if he would watch Butenko during the day and see what information he took home at night. This observation continued for several weeks. Even though Butenko was delivering unclassified documents to Russia, once the information was compiled, they would have been able to decipher the plans for a classified communication system being developed by ITT. Arnold received a letter of appreciation from Herbert Hoover, the Director of the FBI.
In 1966, Arnold accepted a civilian government position with the U. S. Navy Department, Naval Command Systems Support Activity. The largest project completed during his time was the analysis and design of a control system for the Commander of the anti-submarine forces in the Atlantic area. The success of this project led to three months in Hawaii with half of his crew assisting the TRW Corporation in starting a similar system for the Pacific area.
His last development project that he found interesting was for the Department of Defense. He headed up a team of representatives from the DSA, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The task was to find a way for computer programs developed for one service to be made available and used by another service. They determined which data elements were the most significant, created a usable format and cataloged close to 1,000 programs. He retired from government service in 1978.
Always looking for a new challenge, he got his real estate license prior to retiring so he was ready to work. He liked the flexibility of selling real estate at his own pace when he wasn’t traveling. In 1995, he allowed his real estate license to expire.
Arnold and Jo moved to Greenspring Village in 2000 and continued to travel and enjoy their retirement. After Jo’s passing in 2005, he stayed busy doing what he loved most: reading, investing, traveling and spending time with family. Until three months ago, he was working out at the gym 6 times a week. Until two weeks ago, he was reading two newspapers each day as well as business and finance magazines. An avid reader, he has over 550 books on his Kindle. He bought his last stock last week; he bought Checkpoint so he could follow the company his grandson, Cole, is working for.
Arnold has been a stellar example of a life well-lived throughout his 100 years. He has been a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for fifty years. Those who wish to make a memorial gift may donate to the Greenspring Benevolent Fund or the Greenspring Scholars’ Fund, 7430 Spring Village Dr., Springfield, VA 22150.