Milwaukee lost a valuable voice on Thursday, when longtime radio broadcaster and community leader Eric Von died.
Von had more than 25 years in the broadcast industry. He could be heard weekday mornings on his WNOV 860 show.
Von, most recently, had been serving as host of Precious Lives, a multi-media exploration of gun violence and the toll it takes on Milwaukee's young people. He was also lead producer for Precious Lives: Before The Gunshots, part of a national initiative produced by AIR.
Just last week, the 58-year-old talked with WUWM staff about how proud he was of the awareness the project has brought to gun violence in the city and the collaborative effort behind addressing it.
Members of the Precious Lives team are heartbroken over Von's passing, with one stating, "We've lost someone really special. I know we are going to miss him in more ways that we can fathom. So will our community."
WUWM's news director Marge Pitrof says, "We will all miss his incredible devotion to the community - and especially to people who are hurting, his kind spirit, and the joy he radiated out to others. He had the ability to make everyone feel valued."
Tributes have been pouring in, including from state Rep. LaTonya Johnson who praised what she called Von's "voice of reason on the radio and clear-eyed leadership on critical issues."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's James Causey described Eric as being "so much bigger than his radio personality, he was the pulse of the black community and he worked hard to find solutions to the problems plaguing Milwaukee."
Reports indicate Von may have died Thursday night of a heart attack and was found by his wife Faithe Colas.
Von's family released a statement on Friday, stating:
On the afternoon of September 8th, Eric Von made his transition in to eternal life. The community knew Eric as an acclaimed talk show host and political commentator, but we know him as husband, father, brother, friend – a man with a heart of gold. His significant contributions to this community and the world will leave an indelible mark that can never be erased.
Eric was a wonderful friend and mentor to many. As a trusted advisor and leader, he held a remarkable talent for bringing people together. His sharpness, wit, intellect and political astuteness was unmatched.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Eric, but take great comfort in and extend our heartfelt appreciation to the many from the greater Milwaukee area and nation for the outpouring of love, remembrances and support offered to our family.
Eric’s wife, Faithe Colas, daughters Erica Boardley and Paige Colas, and extended family ask for your continued prayers during this difficult time. Final arrangements are pending.
A memorial will be held for Eric Von on Wednesday, September 14 from 3 to 7 pm at the Marquette Alumni Memorial Union. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking that donations be made to the Wisconsin Black Media Association.