Eric R. Maddox, Ph.D., 89, of Columbus, GA, died of leukemia Monday at Emory University Hospital in the presence of family.
Eric’s influence as a musician and artist is far-reaching; after 30 years supervising music for DeKalb County Schools, he spent the next 16 sailing his boat to more than 40 countries, often playing his saxophone or clarinet and honing his skills as a watercolorist. His paintings are displayed in homes all over the world.
Eric was uncommonly adept in the life of mind and body. From an early age, he devoted himself to intellectual and creative development and enjoyed engaging others in these explorations. He was as energized by theories of consciousness, language, and politics as he was by renovating a bathroom, conducting the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, or sailing “Angelique” around the world with his wife, Mona. He was a soft-spoken person with an easy grin and lived fiercely to the end.
A celebration of Eric’s life will be held at 2 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at The River at Club Blanton in Valley, AL. All are welcome. (Use Apple Maps or Waze, not Google maps)
He was preceded in death by his parents, Roscoe and Vivian Lee Maddox, and his younger brothers David, Don, and Richard Maddox.
Survivors include his wife, Mona Kirby Maddox, of Columbus; daughters Leslie (Carl) DeFrancisco of Buford, Kelly (Roddey) Phipps of Tucker, and Laura Stoltz of Columbus; son, David Eric Maddox of Tucker; sisters Helen Arthur of Huntsville, AL, Nan Metz of Eufaula, AL, Joy Barnard of Arab, AL, and Vivian Smith of Gadsden, AL, and two granddaughters, Caroline and Bennett.
Eric was born in Gadsden in December 1931, the first of eight children. He lived in Daphne, AL, during World War II and graduated from Etowah High School in Attalla. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Jacksonville State University in 1952 and joined the Second Air Force Band in Shreveport, LA the same year. After studying at the Sorbonne, Conservatory of Grenoble, he received master’s and doctoral degrees in music education from Florida State University. He was band director at Avondale High School for six years and was commissioned to direct the 48th Armored Division Band in 1963-64.
Eric moved his family of five to Durham, NC in 1964 to place his autistic son in the NIH treatment program at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. The family returned to Atlanta a year later when Eric accepted a job as coordinator of instrumental music for DeKalb County Schools. He also served as associate conductor and principal clarinet for the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra from 1965 to 1970.
Dr. Maddox retired from DeKalb County Schools in 1988 and moved aboard a CSY 44 cruising sailboat. He received his U.S. Coast Guard master’s license in 1989 and cruised the Bahamas and Caribbean from 1990 to 1993. He met and married Columbus native Mona Kirby in 1993, in St. Thomas, USVI. Two years later, the couple weighed anchor in Vieques, Puerto Rico to begin an eight-year circumnavigation which introduced them to diverse cultures in many locations. They docked the boat in Panama City, FL in 2004 and moved to Columbus.
Eric studied painting with Marge Tilley from 1997 to 2016 and became an award-winning watercolorist. He was elected president of the Columbus Artists’ Guild three times and was adjunct professor in the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.
More recently, he was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus. A voracious and lifelong reader, he relished weekly conversations with the Fellowship’s men’s group about books and ideas. He was as comfortable under the hood of a classic car as he was laying tile, writing memoirs, or visiting family.
In a brief bio for the UU Fellowship last year, Eric writes: “I tried hard to be a Southern Baptist from age 13 to 19. Became a Deist, age 19. Slid along continuum through Agnosticism to Atheism. Don’t care for the term ‘Atheism’ as it carries only negative connotations. I am a Secular Humanist if needs be to label. I believe that if there is a ‘higher power,’ it is not separate from the Universe, but imbedded in its fabric. I am open to Pantheism and Buddhism.”
To express condolences, please sign our online guest book at www.flaniganfuneralhome.com. Arrangements By: Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory, Buford, GA (770) 932-1133.