In Honor of Eric Soares, 1953-2012

by John Soares on February 15, 2012

Eric Soares – husband, father, brother, son, and good friend to so many people – passed away on February 1, 2012, of a sudden cardiac event at Stanford Hospital while awaiting surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Eric Soares at a family reunion in 2006. As usual, he was the life of the party.

Eric Soares at a family reunion in 2006. As usual, he was the life of the party.

Eric was a great individual. His strong personality and his desire to live life to the fullest left a major impact on thousands of people, from his family members to his friends to the myriad college students who took his classes at CSU East Bay.

Eric was truly loved and admired – and he is truly missed.

Eric’s Early Years

Eric grew up in a rural area just outside Anderson, California. His love for outdoor adventure began there as he explored the nearby hills and waterways with his younger brother Marc. He had leading roles in several plays at Anderson High School and was a member of the swim team. He also really enjoyed playing sandlot football.

Eric’s Education

After a three-year stint in the Navy, Eric earned an A.A. degree from Shasta College. He then attended Sacramento State University, where he earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Communications. He completed his Ph.D. in Communications at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Eric’s Teaching Career

Eric had a highly successful 25-year career teaching business communication and marketing at California State University, East Bay, where he won awards for his outstanding teaching. He retired in 2008 and was soon honored as a professor emeritus.

Eric’s Family

Eric was well loved by his family members: mother Mozelle, sister Camille, brothers Marc and John, daughter Micaila, granddaughter Paisley, son-in-law Zoey, son Alex, stepson Nick, sister-in-law Patty, John’s life-partner Stephanie, nieces Dionne, Kirby, and Kasey, nephew Jake, and numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Eric with his sister Camille, mother Mozelle, and brothers John and Marc at his daughter Micaila's wedding in 2007.

Eric with his sister Camille, mother Mozelle, and brothers John and Marc at his daughter Micaila’s wedding in 2007.

Eric married his beloved wife Nancy in 1996. They created a life of adventure and exploration from their home in El Granada, California before moving north to settle in Ashland, Oregon in 2008. They studied martial arts together and they hiked, traveled, and explored the western United States, Hawaii, and the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Eric and Nancy Soares took many trips to the Hawaiian Islands.

Eric and Nancy Soares took many trips to the Hawaiian Islands.

Eric's daughter Micaila, son-in-law Zoey, and granddaughter Paisley.

Eric’s daughter Micaila, son-in-law Zoey, and granddaughter Paisley. Eric was absolutely delighted by Paisley!

Eric and the Martial Arts

Eric’s interest in the martial arts began when he was in his early 20s. He first earned a brown belt in Judo, and then later studied kung fu for two years. After meeting and marrying Nancy, he took up her martial art: Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu. They went to the dojo together, trained together, and spent hundreds of hours discussing and analyzing specific techniques and martial arts philosophy. Eric and Nancy began their jujitsu study at the KoDenKan Institute in the Bay Area and then expanded their studies by studying Ten Chi Do with Sifu Hung Lee. Once they moved to Ashland, they were warmly welcomed at the Medford Judo Academy, where they continued their jujitsu journey under the guidance of Professor Larry Nolte. Both Eric and Nancy hold second-degree black belts in jujitsu.

Eric Soares and his wife Nancy in jujitsu uniforms at the 50th anniversary of the Medford Judo Academy in 2010.

Eric Soares and his wife Nancy in jujitsu uniforms at the 50th anniversary of the Medford Judo Academy in 2010.

Eric as Sea Kayaker Extraordinaire

Eric formed the world-famous Tsunami  Rangers sea-kayaking adventure group with his best friend Jim Kakuk in 1985. The group soon expanded to include other serious kayakers. The Tsunami Rangers delight in high-adrenaline activities like surfing big waves and exploring rock gardens and sea caves.

Eric Soares doing what he loved most.

Eric Soares doing what he loved most.

In large part due to Eric’s marketing and PR efforts, the Tsunami Rangers were featured on National Geographic Explorer, Outdoor Life Network, MTV, and the Discovery Channel. Eric also taught kayaking workshops and gave talks on kayaking to groups around the country and around the world, including Canada and New Zealand. He was well-known for his dynamic and entertaining speaking style, and for his ability to spout spontaneous jokes, many at his own expense. Most recently he taught “How to Paddle the Open Coast” at MacKerricher Park near Fort Bragg last August.

In addition to writing dozens of articles for sea kayaking magazines, Eric is the author of Confessions of a Wave Warrior and co-author of Extreme Sea Kayaking with fellow ranger Michael Powers . He also helped make several Tsunami Rangers DVDs, including Kayaking Ocean Rock Gardens and The Tsunami Rangers’ Greatest Hits.

The Tsunami Rangers on an Oregon coast expedition. Eric is second from left, and his wife Nancy is right beside him.

The Tsunami Rangers on an Oregon coast expedition. Eric is second from left, and his wife Nancy is right beside him.

On Eric and Life…

Eric only lived 58 and a half years, but he lived more in his too-short life than most ordinary people would live in five lifetimes.

Eric’s body is gone, but his spirit, his teachings, and his infectious joy live on in all of us who were lucky enough to know him.

If you like, you can make a contribution to the Eric Soares Scholarship Fund.

Please Share Your Thoughts…

Feel free to share anything you’d like about Eric in the comments below. It can be how you felt about Eric, a way Eric touched your life, or a funny or exciting story about Eric.

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Kayak Guy March 17, 2012 at 6:49 am

Eric has lived a full life, one of adventure and definitely of love. He is truly a loss, can’t claim to know him personally but it’s the things like this makes us value life more isn’t it?

Lai Woudstra April 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Wow, I can’t believe Professor Soares is gone! Both my husband and I took a marketing class with him (separately) in the early 1990’s at CSUH. He was our favorite professor at the school. His class was never boring. When our school made it to the semi-finals in the Master Card marketing campaign competition, P. Soares spent a lot of time with us. He invited us to his house to work on the campaign together. He bought us all burritos as a reward for driving out to Half-Moon Bay. We flew on Southwest to New Orleans for the competition. We didn’t know that SW didn’t serve meals on board. We were all starving by the time we arrived in New Orleans. After the competition, we celebrated on Bourbon Street (dinner out). He and I weren’t drinkers in the group, so we walked back to the hotel while the rest of the group went bar hopping after dinner. I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful, generous and caring man.

Doug Lloyd April 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I hope there is a wild blue yonder on the other side and that for Eric it is truly wild, blue, deep, and wet – and that any vastness there crashes against an equally wild shoreline somewhere, where benefits might still accrue from wearing a little bit of upper body armor. Eric influenced my life in ways I’m still comprehending: he abetted a developing, wilder style of coastal kayak-play early on in the 80’s as I transitioned to dynamic ocean water from river but, he also communicated to my then young heart and mind the whole notion to “grok” the coastal experience, if not of the whole of life itself – just to take it all in as one passes through, to inhale deeply the whole experience, the mystery of it all, the surrealism found in say, an energetic surf zone; the simplicity of fun itself to be had any time, any place where there was a freedom to be enjoyed and even relished; that there was safety to be taken seriously in all this with a responsibility that comes when pursuing risk; and that there is an essential individualism allowed, even encouraged amongst sea paddlers both on the water and off. And to never discount camaraderie and team synergies; mostly, as I followed Eric’s life in later years, was the commitment to yourself and those around you to just deliberately keep paddling forward through all the difficulties and problems that sweep through one’s little section of shoreline in this rather short life. As I try to pass some of these notions and realizations on to my own two adventure-loving teenagers, Eric’s legacy and positive influence may ripple outward in ways he perhaps never anticipated…

Nancy Soares April 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Beautiful comment, Doug. Thank you.

Doug Lloyd April 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm


There are perhaps intangible aspects of love born in meaningful relationships that survive beyond time. Those pictures of you and Eric in Hawaii not so long ago, so romantic together – and so freely shared with blog readers, remind me now of this poem by Robert Frost:

I Could Give All To Time

To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.

What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time’s lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.

I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.

Nancy Soares April 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

Oh, Doug, that brought tears to my eyes. You know, I read Robert Frost to Eric in the ICU – he found it very soothing. Frost is one of my favorite poets. The road less travelled… Thank you so much for your lovely comments – connecting with people via the blog has been so healing for me. Along those lines, I hope you’ll enjoy the next post “The Quest for the Magical Healing Pool” scheduled for Monday, April 30. Keep in touch:)

Maxwell Hurts November 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I had Professor Soares as a teacher of mine while in college and made it a point to take him for any class I could after that. He always said that it wouldn’t be the lessons about the subject that we remembered but the stories that he told. I have thought about being in his class at least a few times per year since I graduated in 2006.

He truly cared about the development of his students into fully functioning adults in the real world, not just whether we could pass a class or not. He would speak of his life in order to enhance the lessons we learned and did speak often of the Tsunami Rangers and his martial arts background.

When I heard he had passed away through another alumn, I was shocked and torn. I am really saddened for the loss to the world of such a great man, but am also blessed to have been able to know him and grow because of him. I had always spoke of going back and visiting him before he retired, since I graduated in 2006, but I guess just being able to thank his family for allowing him to impact my life, as he did with so many others, will have to be good enough.

Thank You.

Nancy Soares November 12, 2012 at 9:02 am

Thank you Maxwell for contributing to Eric’s obit. Eric was proud of himself for many things (rightly so), but one of the things he was proudest of was his work at the university. He loved his students and he wanted them all to succeed, both academically and in the world outside the university. His legacy lives on in people like you whose lives he touched.

Doug Lloyd November 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I am on my back, recovering from major back surgery, in pain and unable to do anything. I just lost my partner for life recently and I am inconsolable. I think of how you lived life and visualized future days of adventure after each of your challenges before you finally passed. I am still in the land of the living and you are not but you are here in the hearts of us ocean warriors who want to return to the sea and your life’s vitality you gave to the world courses through my veins as I think of your life and toward my future…

Moulton Avery November 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Doug, it’s a really dark and lonely time for you, no question about it.  You’ve been hit by a freight train rather than the usual mini-bus or taxi, but you also have a bunch of mates still hanging on in the land of the living who care about you, admire you, respect you, and wish you a speedy return to the cockpit.  If Eric was here, he’d be the first to encourage you and cheer you onward to better times.

Doug Lloydl November 18, 2012 at 12:43 am

Thanks Moulton. Was out watching some friends kayak surf today; life is slowly finding resonance again. Eric’s last words to me were to get help. Being independent, I had a hard time with that, but I am now glad I did follow that advice. We sometimes define ourselves in life by the friends we find and the advice we take from them. I will always be a better man for having known Eric and Nancy too, even from afar. Remember, we always do better leaning into the wave a bit and having buds around for backup.


hiroshi tanaka December 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

今日たまたまYOUTUBEで「Tsunami Rangers: Memorial to Eric Soares」という
Sabirina Brennanさんが投稿したビデオを見つけた。
「In Honor of Eric Soares, 1953-2012」という記事を見つけた。







「Enjoy! We are sure you have the same blood we have.」




田中 浩 (Hiroshi Tanaka)
12-1 3 Aobadai wakamatu-ku kitakyusyu-city Fukuoka Japan

Andrew Rossillon December 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Nancy, family, and friends:
I am in complete shock after learning of Eric’s passing. My deepest sympathies. One of my brothers came upon this article as we were planning to drive up through Oregon for a wedding later next year, and I mentioned wanting to stop and see an old friend. My brother asked if Eric had passed away after seeing the title of this article. My heart sank, and I said that he was too young to have died. Little did I know…

He was a truly great human being, professor and friend. I had exchanged several emails with him over the years since you left your Half Moon Bay home, and I had wanted to come to Oregon to visit, but won’t have that chance anymore I suppose. I never got a chance to say goodbye, but here is the best way I know how to at this point…

Dear Professor Soares,
First off, let me apologize for never having coming through and visiting you when I had the chance during your time in Oregon. My brother, Daniel (who you met when we came to visit/walk with you in Half Moon Bay after one of your procedures) and I had talked of taking the trip to come and see you in Oregon, but constantly put it off, and now I regret not going every time I think about it.

I wanted to thank you for being the inspirational teacher you were to me at Cal State Hayward. I truly enjoyed your classes and loved your often side-tracked stories that somehow you managed to wrap back into the lesson of the day.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your suggesting for me to attend graduate school, and offering to write my letter of recommendation (as painful as that must have been 😉 I’m sure the bottle of Scotch I gave you to thank you, somehow was able to even out that challenge!). And, of course, the graduate classes that I took with you were always fun and enlightening. From the jujitsu mentions to kayaking stories and from your time on the aircraft carrier to sharing your childhood memories, I remember most of them and really thought how full of life this person really was.

Little did you know: often times, I would take the longer walk back to my car from my classes, and circle by the teacher’s lot to see if your truck was still there or if your office light was still on, and enjoyed stopping in for an evening chat in your office; always pleased to just sit and listen to your take on the world’s affairs.

I was honored, at my 2008 graduation, that you were the one who read my name as I walked across the stage. Your infectious smile pronouncing the complicated fiasco that is my last name and getting it right as you had for the past 6 years. This was the last time I saw you, and had I known it was the last, I would have said farewell and so much more to my friend.

Thank you for being so much more than just a teacher and a class, but a friend and a mentor.

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Andrew Rossillon, International Marketing, Wells Fargo Bank
MBA, Class of 2008

Nancy Soares December 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Thank you for your comment, Andrew. Eric loved his students, and it’s great to hear from you. Your words mean a lot to me and I’m so happy to hear from another one whose life Eric touched. He was an amazing man and he did so much good for others. His legacy lives on in people like you.

Stuart Tewksbury January 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Nancy, I am so sorry about your loss. I graduated back in 1987 and have always thought fondly of Eric. He was one of my all time favorite teachers and I enjoyed his friendship, too. He was a great coach for CAMCO (California Management Competition) which I participated in back in 86-87. I remember how badly he wanted to beat Berkeley (who Hayward had come in second to the year before) and fortunately we did but unfortunately Cal State Fullerton had a killer team that beat us for first place.
On the personal side, we saw Star Trek IV together at the movies. He also introduced me to one of my favorite meals: Rice covered with cheese, broccoli and crab meat.
I was always sorry that we lost touch but I see that he continued to live life to the fullest and I’m glad for your years together and sorry that they ended too soon. Stuart

Nancy Soares January 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Thanks for the condolences, Stuart. I love that you saw Star Trek IV together. We watched endless episodes of the original Star Trek, and all the episodes with Picard and Janeway. And of course, all the movies. He loved the newest one with Chris Pine as well.
Ah yes, rice with cheese, broccoli and crab meat. Yum. Broccoli was just about his favorite vegetable next to spinach, which he liked steamed with Bragg’s and rice vingegar as a dressing.
I love hearing from all the people whose lives he touched. It makes me feel that he lives on in all of us. Thanks again.

wILLIAM [Bill] Adams April 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

I am shocked and really bummed, i stumbled on this info on face book
Mark if you get this email please email or call
503-775-6757 this is a portland or ph#
I thought about Eric alot through the years he was the best dam
chess player i have ever known

Lisa S May 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Sad to hear that Mr. Soares had passed. I took his Marketing class at CSUH in the mid 90’s. He had a great sense of humor and made learning fun. I really enjoyed his class. Condolences to his family.

Melis June 27, 2013 at 2:43 am

Dear Mrs Soares and his family:

I have just heard about this sad event, I am so sorry for your loss… May Professor Soares rest in peace.
I was one of his students at Cal State in 2005-06. My friend Christelle and I were both part of a student exchange program coming from France to Cal State for a year, and one of the classes we took was his. By far, he was the best professor I ever had. We were always looking forward to his classes, he had always managed to make them so interesting and personal and fun… I don’t know if he was just too nice because we were French, or if indeed we were good, but he always gave us As… 🙂
What a truly, truly, inspiring and Good man Professor Soares was… I feel blessed and honored to have known him and been his student, even if it was just for a short while. I will always cherish these moments…
You must be so proud to call him husband, dad, son, brother, nephew, uncle… Proud that he shared your lives, and am sure you miss him terribly, but be sure that he is somewhere having fun in heaven.
May God give all of you the patience and strength to move forward and bless you all. Lots of love.

Nancy Soares July 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

Thanks for you sweet message. I always love hearing from Eric’s students. He cared greatly about being the best professor he could be and he always put the students’ interests first. He was an excellent teacher, and it was a privilege to have been part of his life.

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