By Gregory J. Wilcox, Los Angeles Daily News
POSTED: 12/30/16, 8:02 PM PST
Judi Erickson, the former city editor of the Los Angeles Daily News who went on to help start a regional business alliance, has died. She was 53.
She died overnight Wednesday at her home in Marion, Kentucky, said former Daily News publisher Tracy Hernandez, the founding CEO of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, an alliance of business groups.
“It just rocked my world,” Hernandez said. “I got the call from Cliff, Judi’s dad (Thursday) morning. I could hardly take in what he was saying. This is just super sad news.”
Erickson, a veteran journalist, was hired as the newspaper’s assistant city editor in August of 2005 and was promoted to city editor in September of 2007.
A year later Hernandez asked Erickson if she would join her and long-time San Fernando Valley Civic leader David Fleming in starting the federation. Erickson jumped at the chance.
“She was a brave soul,” Hernandez recalled. “I said, ‘Judi, lets go do this thing,’ and she said ‘all right’.”
Today the group consists of 164 business organizations.
“She was like the Google of BizFed,” Hernandez added. “She had a memory like an elephant and kept precise records. She was such a vital part of our work.”
Erickson was the group’s first hire, Fleming said.
“Judi was fantastic. She really helped me and Tracy build BizFed. It’s just unbelievable,” he said of Erickson’s death. “I know how he (Cliff) feels. I lost a son who was only 35. Parents shouldn’t be burying their children.”
Erickson left BizFed in 2014 and went back to Kentucky to take care of her father, Cliff Erickson, who lives about three miles from her house in Sturgis. They texted each other every morning and when his daughter did not respond Wednesday he went over and found her in bed.
Before joining the newspaper, Erickson worked for the military publication Stars and Stripes and as a business editor for The Honolulu Advertiser for five years.
For a while she lived in a house on the side of Mount Tantalus on Oʻahu.
“She loved that part of her life. She could sit on her porch and look down on the coast. It was very pretty,” Cliff Erickson said. “And she was an animal lover. She loved animals more than people.”
A family celebration of her life will be held at a later time, he said.
Her final email to colleagues at the paper consisted of quotes she heard reporters utter in the newsroom. She signed off on Sept. 27, 2008 with the following line:
“Vaya Con Dios. It’s been a great journey. But it’s never over…….Judi Erickson.”
She is survived by her father and step-mother, Donna Erickson.