Born in Boston on July 10, 1949 to Carol and Robert Fast, Eric grew up in Wyoming, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, where his parents instilled in him the importance of hard work, a commitment to doing what is right, and a sense of humility. Eric graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NYU Stern School of Business. It was at Chapel Hill, as a proud DKE fraternity brother, that Eric formed unshakeable bonds and created memories that he would hold dear throughout his life.
In the summer of 1978, Eric met the love of his life, Patricia Nelson, in Southampton, New York. Together, they built a life and raised their three daughters, Allison, Christina (“T”), and Lilly in Rye, NY and later in nearby Greenwich, CT.
Eric began his career in 1971 at Bank of New York before spending four years at U.S. Industries as Assistant Treasurer, followed by five years at MacMillan Publishing as Treasurer. In 1984, at the age of 35, he pivoted his career into investment banking, joining Salomon Brothers (later Salomon Smith Barney). It was here that Eric spent the next 14 years, assuming multiple leadership roles and ultimately serving as Co-Head of Global Investment Banking and a member of the firm’s Management Committee.
In 1998, Eric retired from investment banking and chartered a new career path at Crane Co., a publicly listed diversified manufacturing company, serving initially as President and Chief Operating Officer and subsequently as President and Chief Executive Officer. During his 12+ year tenure as CEO, Eric led transformational change, elevating the business into a global, strategically linked, operating company.
As a colleague and dear friend once said, “Eric was everyone’s North Star.” His style of leadership was one of empathy, trust, and integrity, uniquely anchored by his strong moral compass, unparalleled work ethic, and when appropriate, his dry sense of humor. His commitment to building a culture of honesty, fairness, collaboration and excellence drew the respect and admiration of all who had the privilege of working with him. Eric loved to quote Mark Twain and say – “It’s never wrong to do the right thing.”
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of Crane Co., Eric served on multiple boards throughout his career including ADP, Regions Financial, Lord Abbett, National Integrity Life Insurance and Convergys. He was also a member of the Business Roundtable and Business Council.
Away from work, Eric was a man of simple pleasures – a cheeseburger with a light beer and James Taylor tunes and he was happy. Above all else, he loved his coffee at sunrise, walks with “his girls”, fly fishing and golf with his friends, and traveling the world with family. His dry wit and deadpan delivery were always a crowd favorite, and he had an unmatched capacity to connect with people of all walks of life with his self-deprecation and genuine curiosity.
One of Eric’s greatest passions beyond spending time with his family and friends was the game of squash. In addition to sharing his passion with and teaching the game to his daughters, he served on the board of U.S. SQUASH and chaired the College Squash Association (CSA), all with the mission of building awareness and broadening access to the game for junior and intercollegiate players. In 2009, in recognition for his substantial contributions to the sport, he was honored with the U.S. SQUASH President’s Cup, the Association’s prestigious citizenship award.
Eric is survived by his loving family: Patricia Nelson Fast, his wife of 43 years, their three daughters and sons-in-law, Allison & Ford Harrington, Christina & Kirk Adamson and Lilly & Peter Sullivan, four grandchildren, and his sister Annie Olson.
In lieu of flowers, Eric’s family asks that gifts in his memory be given to two organizations that were meaningful to him:
• New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital for pediatric cardiology in honor of Eric’s granddaughter, Lane Harrington, who received lifesaving care from the amazing team of doctors. Please designate ‘MSCH Peds Cardiology’.
• Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) for the year-round, long-term support they offer to young people who deserve and desire more. Please designate ‘Scholarship Fund’.
A Celebration of Life honoring Eric will be held in September.