Eric was born on September 9, 1943 in Rochelle, and grew up on a farm near Steward. He graduated from Rochelle High School, and attended the University of Illinois until he joined the Navy and served as an Operating Room Technician during the war in Vietnam. Upon returning, he received of Bachelor of Sciences degree at N.I.U.
Eric worked at television stations in North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin before settling in Rockford, earning his AMS broadcast meteorology certification in 1982.
Eric's condition forced him to take a medical leave of absence from the airwaves last January. The news staff at WTVO/WQRF-TV, however, would still frequently receive calls, emails, and letters from fans asking about Eric long afterward. It showed that even if he had left their TV screens, Eric remained in the thoughts and prayers of many, many people across the Stateline including the many employees here who will always remember the privilege of working alongside him.
Eric was the first Meteorologist WTVO/WQRF News Anchor Mimi Murphy worked with when she started out covering news in the Stateline 25 years ago. "Eric always made me laugh with his stories about life and relationships," she says. "He made me think when he talked about our government and the challenges our country faces. Eric was smart, funny, and absolutely loved forecasting the weather." Eric and Mimi would be both co-workers and competitors over their respective careers, but they never stopped being friends. "I will miss him greatly," she adds.
As will WQRF/WTVO Chief Meteorologist Candice King, who grew up watching Eric and was thrilled to have the chance to work with him. She remembers their conversations about weather which could go on for hours, and how even as weather technology improved, Eric still relied on his weather instincts to give the most accurate forecast possible. "I remember one time during winter," Candice recalls, "he came in after the morning show - it was snowing - looked at a visible satellite image and said…'The snow isn't going to last long. See those clouds there…the snow will be ending soon - probably in 45 minutes.' And sure enough…down to the minute the snow ended." It was a lesson for Candice from Eric that no matter what the technology tells you, it is no substitute for expertise, and Eric gained such a strong following in part because of his unparalleled knowledge of local weather.
He was also one of the nicest guys you would ever meet. "Eric was like a grandpa to me," Candice says. "I looked up to him, learned a lot from him and will forever respect him - both professionally and as a friend." In a sense, Eric's work lives on in the many lessons he taught Candice, Meterologist Brandon Arnold, and the entire 'Eyewitness News First Warn' Weather team. That was the motivation to name him the station's 'Meteorologist Emeritus' once he went on leave as a way of reminding us of the lasting legacy he leaves on our weather forecasts, even when his health left him unable to give them himself.
He was survived by his son, Tovin “Tom” Nefstead of Savannah, GA; sisters, Cathy and Margaret Nefstead; niece, Michelle Hartman and nephew, Matthew Nefstead
A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 1 p.m. at Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory, Riverside chapel 3910 N. Rockton Ave. Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers memorials to Rockford Rescue Mission.
Condolences may be expressed at www.fitzgeraldfh.com