Eric was born on September 24, 1952, in Missoula, MT to Mary Ellen and Alfred Sampson. The eldest of four siblings, he attended Roosevelt Grade School, Hellgate High School, and U of M. What little free time he had Eric enjoyed spending in the woods hunting with his cousins. In order to afford his favorite activity of flying he was constantly working, digging ditches in Ronan and Polson, swamping the bar owned by his parents and many other jobs. Eric earned his pilot's license before he had a driver's license, and he loved his time in the air. Through the years he shared his joy of flying with his friends and family often thrilling his children with "touch and goes" at the Missoula airport.
After graduation Eric joined the Army where he was originally recruited to fly helicopters. He served until 1972 after which he returned to Missoula with his young family to begin a career in railroading working for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Musby, as he was known, held many positions during his forty-year career with BN and Montana Rail Link from laborer to foreman. In the later years he particularly enjoyed passing his knowledge on to new machine operators. He took immense pride in what he did and how he did it. Most important to him though were the people. He often said, "I don't always like my job, but I work with the best people you will ever meet". Which is why serving his Brothers in his Union was so important to him. Eric served as the Secretary-Treasurer and Local Chairman of Garden City Lodge #272 representing his co workers for many years.
Eric was a long-time member of the Masonic Fraternity. A third-generation member of Missoula Lodge #13 A.F.&A.M. where he served as Worshipful Master for the 1993 term. He was proud to have the chance to install his son Zane in the office of Worshipful Master in the same Lodge in 2019. Supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children was near and dear to his heart. He enjoyed doing Shriner parades with his family. He was a member of Calliope Patrol along with his father Al, and sons Zane, and Eric, often sneaking his daughter Crystal in to dress as a clown with the rest of the family and help hand out candy. He later joined the Midget Patrol (the little green cars) in order to continue parading with Zane and son in law Chris. Eric loved spending time with his Masonic friends and family. He supported and participated in Masonic youth activities with his children and grandchildren when he could through the years offering his guidance and support in helping them achieve their goals.
Eric was all about the people, he loved spending time with his friends and family. Whether you knew him for a day or a lifetime, Dad, Musby, or Papa had a way of making you feel like family. He could often be found traveling the Washington/Oregon coast before a crab feed, on a road trip to Arizona, or a trip to Hawaii or Mexico. In the summers more often than not, you would find him at the family cabin on Flathead Lake hosting as many family members and friends as cared to show up. Over the years he taught dozens of kids and even some adults to water ski and drive a boat. His Captain skills were greatly in demand whenever the kids wanted to go water skiing or tubing. Everybody trusted his skills at the helm of a boat as he insisted that "I haven't lost anyone yet".
As a 20+ year season ticket holder in the North End Zone he loved cheering on the GRIZ! with his family. Eric enjoyed the rowdiness of section 133 and contributed liberally to the action. You knew that you were special if he attended your tailgate as he almost never left the stadium during the game.
Eric was a wonderful man with a generous heart and a kindness that never will never be forgotten.
Eric was proceeded in death by his father Al, mother Mary-Ellen, brother Craig and sister Tracy. He is survived by his son Zane (Anna), daughter Crystal (Chris), son Eric, as well as his grandchildren Hailey, Alexander, and Mikal all of Missoula. His brother Dirk (Laurie) of Vancouver WA, Niece Kelsey (Max) nephew Charlie and Old' What's Her Name in Arizona.
A celebration of Eric's life will be held on October 2nd at the Sunrise Saloon. The celebration will start at 11:00 a.m. Bring a smile for Musby and share a story with friends and family. Cowboys gear is encouraged but not required in tribute to Papa. Food will be provided but please feel free to bring a dish to add to the potluck if you feel so inclined.
As Eric would say "Life is Good"