The Original Collectors Series: Eagan, MN

“Dennis Erickson was a longtime member of Celebration Church in Eagan, MN, where my husband is pastor. After Dennis died in December, we discovered he’d left his home to the church in his will. He had never married or had children. The church was his family.

It turned out that along with the house came his collection of more than 30,000 model cars. Think of any car and you could find it here; every make, every color. He started collecting when he was 9 years old, and he was 69 when he passed away. We calculated that he collected more than one car per day while he was alive. It was a hobby he and his father did together. They also worked on real-life classic cars, and Dennis left several of those to the church as well.

There were cars in every corner of his house, from floor to ceiling. He built custom shelves, which lined every hallway, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, closets, kitchen. Everywhere you looked, there were more cars. When we realized the scope of the collection, we were amazed at what he had created and then so generously gifted to the church. You could tell this had been a real passion, and every time we walked in there, we were just walking around in awe. A feeling of absolute gratefulness and astonishment.” — Dana Ross

The Original Collectors Series: Eagan, MN
The Original Collectors Series: Eagan, MN
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The Original Collectors Series: Eagan, MN

Did anyone know about Dennis’s collection?

People knew he had a passion for cars, but nobody knew about this extensive collection in his home. When he got together with other people it was always at a restaurant or at their houses, never in his own space.

It sounds like he took great care of all the pieces.

He was meticulous. Everything was perfectly clean, lined up and dusted. You could tell he treated all of them equally. In his living room, he had a chair and table with cans of cleaner set up, and he’d go through all the cars in rotation to clean them and Armor All the wheels. He also kept documentation. He would record every time he bought something, and then he’d go back and if he had Armor-All’d the tires, he’d note that. The mental capacity it would take to manage this in the way that he did was beyond impressive.

What was Dennis like?

Dennis was an engineer and was retired when he passed away. Once there was a big ice storm, and he was so devoted that he made his way to the church and crawled across the parking lot to open the doors so that he could be there to greet people when they came in. He was extremely kind and welcoming.

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