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Minnesota firefighter's remains brought back to Kandiyohi County

The funeral for Ryan Leif Erickson is scheduled for Friday, May 20. He was killed May 12 on duty, en route to his storm spotter role.

Max Brink, 5, at right, and other community members wave as late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson passed through downtown in a procession as the Blomkest Fire Department and Rescue Squad escorted his body home to Kandiyohi County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Max Brink, 5, at right, and other community members wave as late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson passed through downtown in a procession as the Blomkest Fire Department and Rescue Squad escorted his body home to Kandiyohi County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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BLOMKEST, Minnesota — The community of Blomkest gathered on Main Street Tuesday night to show its appreciation and respect for Ryan Leif Erickson as the Blomkest Fire Department and Rescue Squad escorted his body back to Kandiyohi County.

Volunteer firefighter Ryan Erickson, 63, of Blomkest, Minnesota.
Volunteer firefighter Ryan Erickson, 63, of Blomkest, Minnesota.
Contributed by city of Blomkest

Erickson, 63, of rural Blomkest, was killed Thursday on duty, en route to his storm spotter role when an empty grain bin was blown onto him by straight-line winds in the May 12 storm.

The Erickson escort traveled from St. Cloud via Minnesota Highway 23, then south on U.S. Highway 71, east on Minnesota Highway 7 and north through Main Street of Blomkest and back to Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar.

Blomkest Fire Department and Rescue Squad personnel escort the body of late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson as his body was brought home to Kandiyohi County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Blomkest Fire Department and Rescue Squad personnel escort the body of late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson as his body was brought home to Kandiyohi County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Willmar Fire Department personnel and Willmar residents gather along Trott Avenue Tuesday to honor Erickson on the final leg of the procession to Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in southwest Willmar.

Erickson's celebration of life service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at the Refuge Church at 1000 Sixth Street Southeast in Willmar.

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Friends, family and community members line Main Street in Blomkest Tuesday, May 17, 2022, to pay their respects to the late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson during a procession following his passing last week.
Friends, family and community members line Main Street in Blomkest Tuesday, May 17, 2022, to pay their respects to the late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson during a procession following his passing last week.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church on Friday. Interment will be at the Evergreen Cemetery in Blomkest.
Erickson was born March 3, 1959, in Willmar to Evie and Bob Erickson. He graduated from Willmar High School in 1977 and then attended Willmar Vocational Technical Institute.

A woman holds an American flag while watching the procession of Ryan Leif Erickson move through Blomkest on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
A woman holds an American flag while watching the procession of Ryan Leif Erickson move through Blomkest on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"He was a true Blomkest lifer," reads his obituary. He went to work at Erickson's Plumbing and Heating, the family business in Blomkest. "Ryan treated each customer like family and was proud to be people's 'go to guy'," according to the obituary. He also was enjoying his latest endeavor working in sales at Perkins Lumber.

Erickson met his wife, Kelly Erickson, on a chance encounter on a Mexico trip and they married in 2000. He became a proud parent to two girls whom "he loved and treated as his own," the obituary said.

Flowers for the late Ryan Leif Erickson sit outside the Blomkest Fire Department on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Flowers for the late Ryan Leif Erickson sit outside the Blomkest Fire Department on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Erickson served on the Blomkest Fire Department for more than 40 years. He was always looking forward to their community fundraising events. He also loved his volunteer work, especially two mission trips to Bolivia where his plumbing expertise enriched the communities there.

He was a strong supporter of his community and was always proud of his float creations for Blomkest Appreciation Day, according to his obituary.

Hundreds of community members line Main Street in Blomkest to watch the procession of late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Hundreds of community members line Main Street in Blomkest to watch the procession of late Blomkest firefighter Ryan Leif Erickson on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

He also served on the East Lake Lillian Township Board, the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative Board and many other boards during his career.

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Retired firefighter Dean Nagen, who worked with Ryan Leif Erickson, waits for Erickson's procession to roll through Blomkest on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Retired firefighter Dean Nagen, who worked with Ryan Leif Erickson, waits for Erickson's procession to roll through Blomkest on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
Willmar Fire DepartmentWillmar Fire Department personnel waited Tuesday evening, May 17, 2022, for Ryan Erickson's procession to pass along Trott Avenue Southwest in Willmar. The Blomkest firefighter's remains were returned to Blomkest and Kandiyohi County Tuesday night.
Willmar Fire Department personnel waited Tuesday evening, May 17, 2022, for Ryan Erickson's procession to pass along Trott Avenue Southwest in Willmar. The Blomkest firefighter's remains were returned to Blomkest and Kandiyohi County Tuesday night.
Kelly Boldan

Erickson is survived by his wife; two daughters, Tasha (and Dustin) Hage of Fargo, North Dakota, and Jennifer (and Trenton) Adkins of Spicer; and four grandchildren, Jackson and Westin Hage and Quinn and Leighton Adkins; mother, Evelyn Erickson-Paulson of Willmar; and three siblings, Ross (and Margaret) Erickson of Willmar, Matt (and Rai-Anne) Erickson of Blomkest and Dana (and Tom) Roderick of Rockford, Illinois.

He was preceded in death by his father and a grand-nephew, Eli Mattfield.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "West Central Tribune staff report." Often, the "West Central Tribune staff report" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

The West Central Tribune newsroom can be reached via email:
willmar-newsdesk@wctrib.com or phone 320-235-1150.
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