Eric Hohnwald passed away peacefully on January 22 at the age of 83. He was a resident of Sarasota for over 53 years. He was born to Bess and Eric Hohnwald, Sr. in Chicago Il. Eric enjoyed the family cottage at Channel Lake, Il growing up. His mother used to row Eric (PeeWee) and his sister Barb (Babs) across the lake during the summer. The family moved back to Chicago to operate a tavern where Eric was the occasional bartender. He attended the University of Chicago, Valparaiso University, and Loyola University Dental School where he graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).
Captain Eric Hohnwald served as an Army dental officer in the 38th Medical Detachment at Long Binh, Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1965-1968. He was proud of his service and enjoyed conversations with other vets. After completing his service he settled in Sarasota with his wife Karen Jensen to begin his dental practice of over 40 years. They had three children: Deborah, Kevin, and Brian. He enjoyed time with his children and grandchildren (Derek and Katie) tremendously and cheering them on with their adventures in life. Eric was also a Big Brother for many years and enjoyed giving back to the community and mentoring others in business decisions. He helped take care of his Uncle Jay and Uncle Ernie when they retired to Sarasota.
Eric had an incredible passion for his profession. He was an esteemed dentist, adored by his patients and staff. His sense of humor and genuine interest in people were apparent to all who knew him.
In the 1980s, Eric hiked much of the Appalachian Trail and traveled to Nepal with his son Kevin for an ambitious trek in the foothills of Mt. Everest and Himalaya Mountains – complete with yaks, a caravan of hikers and local guides. During an emergency along the trek, he extracted a tooth for one of the Nepalese guides.
From an early age in high school when he canoed the Chicago River Eric always had a passion for the great outdoors. He met his wife Mary on a Sierra Club canoe trip and they were married for over 35 years. Together they led and participated in dozens of hiking and canoeing trips first for the Sierra Club and in later years with the Florida Sport Paddling Club. Their trips included the Missouri River, Buffalo River, the Green River and the Mississippi River. They led annual trips to the Florida Keys, Okefenokee Swamp, Cayo Costa and the Florida Panhandle among others. He was also a member of the Appalachian Trail Association and Florida Trail. Eric, with his infectious smile and inquisitive nature was happiest paddling, hiking, sitting around a campfire or planning his next trip. Later in life he enjoyed vacationing with his sister Judy and husband Lee.
Always inquisitive, always lighthearted, even later when faced with multiple medical challenges, there was never a garage sale or a potluck Eric could pass up. He was generous in sharing his knowledge of how to camp and plan outdoor trips. He always looked forward to the next one. All who loved you miss you and bid you Godspeed on your final trip home.
Eric is survived by his wife, Mary Heminger; his three children: Deborah Dennison, Dr. Kevin Hohnwald, Brian Hohnwald; his two grandchildren: Derek Dennison and Kaitlin Dennison; as well as his three siblings: Barbara Zahradnik, (Chicago), Judy Liss (Chicago) and Jim Hohnwald (New Hampshire).
Eric will be laid to rest in the Sarasota National Cemetery on Friday, March 25th at 2:00 pm. A celebration of life will be held Saturday, March 26 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Goewey Hall at Church of the Redeemer Episcopal Church 222 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (downtown Sarasota) Goewey Hall is located to the left of the church entrance on Gulf Stream Blvd. Parking- Gulf Stream Blvd, Mcansh Square, and Palm Ave. (paid) There is a church lot at the corner of Ringling Blvd. & South Palm - sign reads "Redeemer Church Parking". In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Sarasota Manatee Sierra Club.