School 21

Eric J. Bartleson

July 26, 1944 ~ June 8, 2020 (age 75)


Dr. Eric Bartleson passed away on Monday, June 8 at home surrounded by his family.  Eric was born July 26, 1944 the son of Paul and Eva Bartleson of Forest City, IA.  He graduated from Forest City High School in 1962 and married his high school sweetheart, Catherine Ann Bleich, September 10, 1966.  Cathy was his loving wife for 48 years until her passing in 2015. 

Eric was a lifelong learner and educator.  He attended Waldorf College earning his AA degree in 1964.  While at Waldorf he was a member of the football team that was undefeated in 1963.  The team was recently inducted into the Waldorf University Sports Hall of Fame.  He then continued at Mankato State University earning his Bachelor of Science in English and Mathematics in 1966.  Eric put his degree to work in the Minneapolis, MN and Mason City IA school districts over the next 7 years as a high school Math and English Teacher.  During this time he continued his education and achieved his Master of Science in Education Curriculum from Mankato State in 1969.

Eric became a high school principal in 1974 in Marshall, MN and then in Milaca, MN from 1975-1981.  He also completed his dissertation for his Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Mankato State (1975).  He went on to become a Superintendent at Lake Crystal, Mankato, Winona and Plainview-Elgin-Millville before retiring in 2008.  In 1993 Eric earned his PHD from the University of Minnesota.  Eric also spent 3 years as an Assistant Professor at Minnesota State University - Mankato in the Education Leadership department and was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Capella University and Winona State University from 2005 through 2015.

Eric loved to fish, and his career just happened to take him to cities with very productive lakes.  He also loved to travel and was an avid reader.  His greatest accomplishments were being a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was very proud of his 35 years of sobriety, a lifestyle choice he made and modeled for others in the family. 

Eric was a leader in his profession and spent many years on the boards of the state and national associations for school administrators.  Likewise, a leader in his community he served in a volunteer capacity for a number of non-profit boards, and also was a founding member of the All Are One church in Winona, MN.

Eric was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Catherine Ann, and his son-in-law Brad Swanson.  He is further survived by his son Paul (Luanne Kostelic) Bartleson, Paul’s children Eric, Kyle, Alex, and step-children Robby Kostelic, David Kostelic, Brad Parish and Nicole Parish.  Daughter Jennifer Swanson, Jennifer’s children Drew, Ryan and Ben. Daughter Ann Marie (Brian) Beste, Ann Marie’s children Will, Luke and Catherine Ann Marie.  Eric had five great grandchildren Alyza, Blake, Kylie, Dylan and Raya.

Eric is also survived by his very special friend and companion Pat Przybylski.   Pat and Eric spent his most recent years traveling, going to concerts, and doing almost anything as long as it was together!  He is further survived by his sister Ruth (Gary) Gernetzke, and brothers Mark (Paulette) Bartleson and Joel (Dorothy) Bartleson. 

Eric has chosen to donate his body to the Mayo Clinic for the purposes of medical education, research and surgical training.  The family is planning a private religious service to commemorate his life.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to Home and Community Options, Winona Area Public School Foundation, Winona Hospice, St. Anne of Winona or a charity of your choice.

Services entrusted to Fawcett Junker Funeral Home & Crematory, Winona, MN and Fountain City, WI.  Words of sympathy and remembrance can be given at

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