Chicago dance publicist Eric Eatherly was a friend to us all

I mostly write about dance. My posts aren't "news" and they don't change the world. Typically, dance is not a sad subject to have to sit down and write about. In fact, usually I am bubbling over with excitement to share photos of The Nutcracker or to announce a call for choreographers.

And so I write this post today feeling a little out of my element. Eric Eatherly, vice president of the Silverman Group and publicist for the Joffrey Ballet, passed away Monday in a car crash while visiting his family for the holidays in Tennessee.

I had a working relationship with Eric, as many writers in Chicago did. As soon as the Chicago Sun-Times broke the news, my Twitter feed blew up with nice tweets about Eric and what a tragedy it was to lose such a bright young man. As the Joffrey's sole PR man, Eric introduced me to the Joffrey in 2011 with The Merry Widow, and every fall, winter and spring since I've been meeting Eric at the press desk of the Auditorium Theatre, he with a huge grin on his face and a firm handshake, so excited to share his world and never complaining about working on a Friday night.

Our relationship was a working one, and yet he touched my life with his contagious positive attitude. He was smart and energetic, always eager to help. He was great at his job, not only because of his dance background and his writing skills but because he genuinely cared. He cared about the writers he worked with and the clients he worked for and the arts community in Chicago. He will be sorely missed by the dance community. I can only imagine how he impacted the lives of his loved ones.

Eric is a reminder to us all on this New Year's Eve to keep our loved ones close but to also not take for granted our daily interactions with people who we don't know so much about. Stop and ask your barista how her day is going. Bring your doorman a hot coffee. Ask a coworker out to lunch or help a neighbor with his groceries. You might just turn an acquaintance into a friend.

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