Obituary: Eric “The Fridge” Mittereder (1985-2024)

April 18, 2024

Eric Clark Mittereder, a writer, editor, and animating spirit for the Georgetown Voice from 2004 through 2008, passed from this mortal coil on March 28, 2024. The cause was glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He died as any of us might hope to—at home, surrounded by those who loved and knew him best. But at 38, this moment came far too soon. We now must grapple with the gaping hole his early departure has left in each of our lives and in the close circle of friends we have carried since we met at the Voice twenty years ago.

We met Eric in the fall of his freshman year at Georgetown. His campaign slogan in the student government election for freshman class president was “Mittereder: it rhymes with refrigerator.” As a scrawny boy who was brawny at heart, we of course nicknamed him The Fridge. Eric was obviously thrilled to be at college. While most of us struggled to inhabit various forms of ironic posturing, Eric never bothered to mask his enthusiasm. He was happy to try anything, to explore, and never afraid to make a fool of himself. Where many of us would hold back, Eric just went for it. Hijinks ensued.

But Eric wasn’t just some teenaged agent of chaos. The more time you spent with him, the more you came to appreciate his enormous warmth, empathy, and thoughtfulness. He listened when you spoke, and always asked you again about the things that mattered to you. He was a responsible hedonist. He loved music more passionately than many actual musicians. His dancing shoes were well-worn yet impeccably shined. He found esoteric subjects deeply engaging. He loved German. He appreciated a good cocktail and a well-prepared meal and if you were lucky enough to share either with him, he would help you order. Dishes and drinks were to be shared and discussed in great depth and seriousness.

His first weekend at Georgetown, Eric met fellow freshman Alison Gillis. Immediately he knew that she was the girl for him. Despite being slightly intimidated that her father, Chet Gillis, was a professor at the university—religious studies, no less!—the two of them struck up a romance that grew into a devoted, sincere love that lasted the rest of his life.

After completing their undergraduate degrees, Eric and Alison ventured approximately four miles east to attend Georgetown Law, where Eric received both his JD and LLM. Eric characteristically chose to use his hard-earned expertise in tax law for good rather than evil. He specialized in using tax credits to help unlikely community projects get built—things like schools and affordable housing.

Eric and Alison moved to Chicago after law school, where they became fixtures in the Logan Square neighborhood. They acquired cats, new hobbies, the means to travel, and an ever-expanding network of friends. We knew to always schedule extra time for a meal and a long evening out whenever we were lucky enough to come through town.

During the pandemic, Eric and Alison realized that they didn’t need to suffer the long Midwestern winters and started decamping to California for months at a time. After receiving Eric’s diagnosis, they made the switch permanent, moving to Oakland and surrounding themselves with friends. Treatment slowed them down, but not much. They went to Hawaii. They saw Beyonce. They tried (and thankfully failed) to go to Burning Man. They ate good meals and had long visits with friends who came from all over the world to make Eric’s final months the best they could possibly be. Eric maintained an astonishing, inspiring spirit of hope and gratitude in the face of death. He was able to squeeze all the life and love he could out of these last best experiences because of Alison’s tireless care in shepherding him through the painful travails of cancer, in her ultimate expression of love for him who all of us loved so dearly. Fridge lived well, was loved by many, and will be greatly missed.

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