Eric Magnuson, President of MAGNUM Companies Ltd., of Atlanta Georgia, and Franconia, New Hampshire, died suddenly on November 30, 2006. He was 55.
Mr. Magnuson was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, graduated from Lawrence High School in Falmouth, Massachusetts with Honors, and earned a degree in classical archeology at New York University. After college he moved to Atlanta to work on a documentary film and then on theater set construction, later becoming a technical director at the Alliance Theater.
In 1979, he met his wife Linda and they co-founded MAGNUM which grew from an operation in their home to a full service production company, specializing in school, theater and museum lighting with a significant interest in producing events and corporate productions. Mr. Magnuson and MAGNUM have been members of USITT since 1982.
As his career and MAGNUM developed, the company grew to 16 full-time employees. Most recently Mr. Magnuson did the lighting design for the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and the Pottery Museum in Sautee, Georgia. His work was also seen at Atlanta-area theatre company productions, corporate events, and fund-raising occasions.
He was valued member of the Entertainment Services & Technology Association (ESTA), serving as Secretary since 1989. He always believed strongly in giving back to his community, and served as the first chairman of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival board. In 1998 he received the Atlanta Chapter of International Special Events Society's Dale Riggins Humanitarian award.
Mr. Magnuson was probably best known for his personal enthusiastic nature and his generosity towards other people. Most people in the business who have moved to the Southeast soon became known to him on a personal basis. He knew who everyone was, what they did, and could easily strike up a conversation despite month-long gaps.
Said former Lighting Commissioner Rich Dunham, "My last conversation with him was in Louisville where we ran into one another somewhere on the Expo floor. Like always, he was quick to drop whatever materials he had as we started to sketch out some paperwork or he offered some advice or services to us (USITT) through his role in both ESTA and MAGNUM.
"This continued generosity followed him throughout his career. Numerous charities and even the early days of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival were recipients of his donations of time and equipment –at times only covering the costs of the labor that he provided for some of these events.
"He was also quick to offer training seminars and workshops to students and others who were relatively new to the profession –to the point of personally sponsoring these activities at his business and hiring especially interested students as apprentices. He will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by many of us."
Mr. Magnuson is survived by his wife, Linda; daughter, Ingrid; stepson Todd Finch; sister, Pamela; and brothers Peter, Philip, and Michael. A Memorial Service was held Sunday, December 10, 2006 at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where several hundred people gathered to celebrate Mr. Magnuson's life.
A bluegrass band played. Clergy, friends, and family spoke in recognition of his life and contributions. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Behind the Scenes (www.estafoundation.org) or to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.