With heavy hearts, Oakland University students, faculty and staff are remembering a friendly, energetic and ambitious young man who lost his life in a snowmobiling accident on Sunday, Feb. 2.
Eric Thomas Pauli, a freshman and the son of former OU staffer Dawn Pauli, was 19 years old. He was a pre-engineering major who came to Oakland from Dakota High School in Macomb.
One of Eric’s great pleasures in being a part of the campus community was his involvement in the Golden Grizzlies Band, which is best known and loved for its pep performances at OU athletic events.
“The members of the Golden Grizzlies Band are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic and sudden death of Eric Pauli. He was a very proud and valued member of the Golden Grizzlies Band,” said Director Kenneth Kroesche, DMA.
“His infectious enthusiasm and fun-loving personality were often displayed during performances. He loved to play "Bone Tunes" – a comical collection of songs arranged for just the trombone section – with his fellow band members, many of whom are friends from when Eric was a student at Dakota High School.”
Dr. Kroesche added that the loss is a tremendously difficult one for himself and Eric’s fellow band members because he had such an vibrant presence within the group.
“Eric often told others how much he loved Oakland and loved being a part of the Golden Grizzlies Band. He will surely be missed. On behalf of the band, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Eric's family.”
Fellow band member Nicholas Van Proeyen offered similar thoughts.
"I had only known Eric for a very short portion of his life, but whatever we did together, be it League of Legends to Magic The Gathering to ping pong to anything in between, it was more enjoyable with him there," Nicholas said.
"Whenever we had a game, Eric would always be one of the loudest kids, always making sure Oakland knew they had his support. Eric Pauli was a great friend, teammate and classmate, and he will be missed very dearly by all of us."
Classmate Tiffany Bellomo, also a fellow band member, described Eric as "super funny," noting that he honored the terms of a bet on a euchre game and dressed up as a girl after losing.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to (Eric's girlfriend) and the family," Tiffany said.
"You can pray for Eric, but it is always harder for the ones that you leave behind. And by the looks of everyone's Facebook status updates, memories and sadness, a lot of people that loved Eric must have gotten left behind."
Claudette Zolkowski, an OU staffer and close family friend of the Paulis said she thought of Eric as a nephew.
"You touched our lives and our hearts with your remarkable ability to show your love without reservation," she wrote to Eric in a message on Facebook. "In your far too short time on this earth, you made a big difference in so many lives. We are better for having known you. You will forever be part of our family."
A funeral mass for Eric is planned for 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at St. Isidore Catholic Church, 18201 23 Mile Road in Macomb Twp. He will lie instate at the church starting at 9:30 a.m.
The Pauli family will receive family and friends from 2-9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, at Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, 54880 Van Dyke at 25 Mile Road in Shelby Twp. Visitors will pray the Rosary at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family would greatly appreciate donations being made to the Dakota High School Band Scholarship or Making Miracles Animal Rescue
, P.O. Box 926, Hazel Park, MI, 48030.