NW Christian newspaper pioneer passes

cnnw-logoBy Christian News Northwest

Eric Lee Stiller, whose steadfast faith in Christ and 22 years of dedication to the ministry of Christian News Northwest played a critical role in its long-term survival, died unexpectedly early last month. He was 65.

Stiller’s body was found in the living room of his Jantzen Beach home by one of his two adult sons on the evening of Jan. 4. The medical examiner determined his death was from unspecified natural causes.

“Eric’s passing is an absolute shock,” said CNNW Publisher John Fortmeyer. “Over the past 22 years of working together, we had become closer than brothers. He was one of the most loving, positive people I have ever known, and words cannot describe how much he is already missed.”

Joining the newspaper operation as an advertising salesperson upon only its third monthly edition in August 1994, Stiller was later named ad director and also eventually joined the newspaper’s governing board.

“Eric’s role was so pivotal that if not for him, Christian News Northwest might never have survived its initial challenges,” said Fortmeyer. “It’s largely because of his belief in the mission of our Christian newspaper that we are still here today.”

A Pennsylvania native, Stiller moved with his family to Portland as a teenager. Prior to joining CNNW he worked for years as a manager for both Denny’s and Sizzler restaurants in the Portland area. Dedicating his life to Christ in his 40s, he felt called to leave the restaurant industry and apply his business background to the ministry.

Stiller was widely known for his friendly and encouraging manner, and he delighted not only in ad work but assisting in all aspects of CNNW’s operation.

When the Great Recession of 2008 hit the newspaper industry hard nationally and forced budget cutbacks for CNNW, Stiller took on additional employment as a bus driver for Portland Public Schools.

Stiller was a longtime active member of Hayden Island Community Church.

He is survived by sons Cody and Ben; a sister, and his parents, all living locally. Public memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 in Johnson Chapel at Western Seminary, 5511 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland.

His family also hosted an informal memorial gathering in Tualatin on Jan. 10 and the Hayden Island church devoted much of its weekly service on Jan. 11 to memories of Stiller.

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