On February 7, 2019, Erica Chase-Salerno of New Paltz, NY, cast off the final line from her Viking ship and sailed away to her next celestial port. In the hold she carried with her all the love, experiences, gifts and everyday miracles you all have shared with her on her 49-year earthly journey.
An everyday miracle for Erica could be a toasted sesame bagel, a mint chocolate chip milkshake, an empanada, a trip to Waffle House, or even some things that didn’t involve food: finding the earring she was sure was lost forever, reclaiming a friendship that she thought was gone, watching an Old Orchard Beach sunrise, walking in her beloved labyrinth.
Her voyage began in Norwich, NY in 1969, and took her from Schenectady to Allegheny College to SUNY New Paltz, with stops in Canada, Holland, Germany, France, Haiti, Mozambique, Cambodia, Thailand, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and all over the United States.
She leaves behind on shore her family: daughter Quinn, whose insights into people are second to none; son Declan, whose natural athletic skills merge seamlessly with his gentle demeanor; husband Mike, whose brilliance, courage, and strength have guided the family throughout their entire journey; Tofu the crested gecko, who can lick his own eyeballs; and Casey the dog, whose unique song stylings bring “music” to the house; Mary and Robert Chase of Schenectady, NY; Olga and Sal Salerno of New Paltz, NY; George, Vanessa, and Kai Lian Chase of Houston, TX; and many cherished relatives and friends.
Erica scooped ice cream, worked retail, waitressed, taught French and Spanish, and even had a job at the United Nations before founding Wyld Acres, where she served as an intuitive. Throughout her travels she inhabited and served many communities, including Ulster County Home Educators, Maverick Concerts, Forsyth Nature Center and a variety of youth and sports organizations. Co-founding the online community Hudson Valley Parents with her husband led to lifelong connections Erica treasured, and to writing her weekly columns for Ulster Publishing, Kids’ Almanac and Erica’s Cancer Journey.
Erica loved this story from Maurice Sendak:
Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
That’s how Erica lived her life: she saw it, she loved it, she ate it.
Visitation and burial were held privately. A public Celebration of Life will be held at a time and place to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Erica’s loving memory to her children’s education fund by mailing checks made payable to Michael Chase-Salerno to PO Box 300 Modena, NY 12548. Write “education” in the memo. Online tributes and remembrances may be posted at https://erica.chasal.net/.
Copeland Funeral Home is honored to assist the family with the arrangements. Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting www.copelandfhnp.com.