Erik Foreman, who died while diving in Michigan, served as a friend and role model for the sorority sisters at the UW’s Alpha Phi house.
For the past 19 years, Erik Foreman fed hundreds of young women at Alpha Phi at the University of Washington.
To them, and the others who worked in the kitchen with him, Mr. Foreman was more than a chef. He knew a lot about them, from their aspirations and class schedules to their favorite foods and bits of drama that go along with being in college.
He knew that Hayley Young liked when he made chicken Parmesan, or that Elizabeth Rodland’s favorite fruit is blueberries. That’s why he put them in her celebratory cake when she won the title of Miss Greek in 2013.
The students were devastated to learn that Mr. Foreman, 47, of Shoreline, died while diving in Lake Huron in Michigan on Monday, pursuing a passion he started in 2006 and traveled the world to enjoy, from Peru to the Galápagos Islands.
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“I’d say one of the greatest things about Erik is that he was so generous with his time,” said Kimberly Lyle, who served as Alpha Phi’s president and graduated in 2014. “He went above and beyond being a chef. It was so evident that he lived life to the fullest.”
When Mr. Foreman retired in the spring, the sorority organized a party for him attended by more than 100 current members and alumni. He was admired and praised as a role model in this small but tight-knit community.
Nathan Rodland, Elizabeth’s brother and an incoming junior at UW, was a houseboy and worked alongside Mr. Foreman. When the pressures of college got to him, Nathan Rodland said, Mr. Foreman made him realize that life is best lived beyond a 9-to-5 routine, and that pursuing passions is most meaningful.
“He was a mentor,” he said. “He was incredibly well-versed in humanities and always had a lesson to teach you. And for me, being away from my parents, trying to act cool in front of sorority girls and trying to be strong, he brought me a lot of comfort knowing he would listen to me and offer me advice and knowledge.”
Mr. Foreman, who leaves behind a wife and son, was an experienced diver and a member of the Maritime Documentation Society, an organization that explores and documents shipwrecks. He spent a lot of his time in Lake Union and the waters of the Pacific Northwest with his friend, Chris Borgen.
Borgen said Mr. Foreman liked his job at the sorority because it was flexible — it gave him the summers and holiday breaks to go out and dive.
“Beyond any instructor we ever had, beyond anyone I ever dove with, I would have put my trust with Erik,” Borgen said. “He was so levelheaded, so calm in the water.”
Borgen, who said the family is declining to comment at this time, and others used the word “humble” to describe Mr. Foreman.
“Erik was one of those guys that from the moment he walked in the room, he had people listening to him,” Borgen said. “He was the kind of guy who would do anything for you. He was a total sweetheart and a very brave individual.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family. Alpha Phi will also hold a candlelight vigil to remember Mr. Foreman in their courtyard, at 4710 19th Ave. N.E. at 9 p.m. Thursday.