Eric Norman Birch, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away Wednesday, July 18th, at the age of 75. He was the eldest son of Norman and Elvie (Eklund) Birch, to whom he was devoted, caring for them for the past 10 years until their deaths in 2016-17 at ages of 100. He is survived by his loving wife, Sandra O. Moose and his children: Alex and his wife Jennifer Birch, Jordan Birch, Elizabeth Birch and her husband Brendan McGrath, their mother Judith R. Birch and his grandchildren Satchel and Talula Birch and Jack McGrath. Eric was also very close to his younger brother Alan Birch and his wife Catharine and their children, David and Steven, along with a number of cousins with whom he stayed in close contact for all of his life. He gave his time, care and attention freely and with ease to his family, friends and colleagues.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 28th, 1942, he graduated from Thomas Jefferson School (St. Louis, Missouri), which he regarded as a formative experience, developing a love of the Greek classics, science and philosophy. From there, Eric returned to Cambridge, admitted to Harvard College at just 16 years old, graduating in 1963. Eric had a natural, soaring singing voice and was a spirited guitar and banjo player. During those folk singing years, he started a trio called the Harvard Squares.
With an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1967, he launched a business career spanning a range of industries: refractories, sports equipment, consumer goods, product testing, paper production, automated technology and more. His time at Corning, Inc., Nashua Corp., Inchcape, and Degree C. were particularly memorable, as much for success as lifelong friendships. Whether it was a short consulting stint or his years as an executive, there was never an end to Eric’s intellectual curiosity and commitment to making things work.
One of Eric’s trademarks was his distinguished mustache, which he started as a young man. He delighted in any good joke, pun or gag that came across his desk or perhaps one of his own creation. He loved art: impressionist, ancient and modern. He was a fine collector of historical maps and Japanese prints. To call him an avid reader would be an understatement. From his extensive book collection, he enjoyed reading biographies, science fiction and books exploring themes of science and religion. He rode a motorcycle with a cousin all around Nova Scotia. He skied every peak in New England. He never lost his love of seeing this world: taking his infant boys to Tunisia, swimming too far past a rip tide in Japan, seeing 7 plays in 7 days in London with The Huntington Theatre Company, and taking a fascinating journey to Antarctica with Sandy in December of 2016.
After years working in various places, he would eventually return to where he belonged. Always proud of his New England roots, he resided in both Nashua, NH and Chestnut Hill for the past 12 years with his devoted wife, Sandy. His most recent years were so happily spent with her, attending concerts and events, visiting their vacation home in Florida, tending his beautiful bonsai trees, and of course keeping up with his adoring grandchildren, Satchel (17), Talula (15) and Jack (5).
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, July 27th from 4-8:00 PM in the Eaton Funeral Home, 1351 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA. A funeral service will be offered on Saturday, July 28th at 11:00 AM at The Church of the Redeemer, 379 Hammond Street, Chestnut Hill, with a reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to Parkinson’s Foundation (parkinson.org); The Huntington Theatre Company in Boston (huntingtontheatre.org) or The Thomas Jefferson School (www.tjs.org).