Erik Gann

Erik GannErik Gann died July 19, 2023 after a valiant battle against cancer. His brothers in the Whiffenpoofs wrote this about him: “He was a psychoanalyst of skill and compassion. He practiced successfully, first in San Francisco, next in New York City and then back in San Francisco again. Late in July he lost his valiant battle with cancer and passed away, quietly and peacefully. He leaves his lovely wife, Dr. Phyllis Cath, and his children Eliot, Laura, Alexander and Andrew.

“Erik was a musician. He was a talented pianist and singer. At Yale, he sang with the Augmented Seven and the Russian Chorus. At Columbia Medical School he was Sky Masterson in a student production of “Guys and Dolls.” In 2016 he was inducted into the Whiffenpoofs of 1967 and performed with us at our 50th Reunion.

“Erik will be sorely missed, by his family, by his patients, by his classmates, and certainly by his fellow Whiffs. He made the world go round!”

Tom Jones added, “Erik was the best of friends. In 2021 I lost a dear Jewish friend. His widow asked me to conduct the service. I was terrified. I couldn’t refuse, but I had no idea what to do other than perhaps write an obituary. But I knew to whom I could turn. I called Erik. With great kindness and gentleness, he guided me. He suggested I sing “Avinu Malkeynu.” Because I could not possibly recite the prayer, he translated the Kaddish into English for me. And he encouraged me. The morning was difficult, but with Erik’s support I made it through. He was a friend indeed.”

And Geoff Neigher said, “Erik was a relatively new addition to the Whiffs, but he seemed, almost instantly, to be an old friend. Maybe it was his sparkling sense of humor, or his easy conversational style. Certainly, it was his warmth and compassion. He demonstrated those qualities to members of my family on more than one occasion, and for that and for his friendship, I am deeply grateful. His voice will be missed in more ways than one.”

“Erik and Walt Buhl and I all moved on to medical school at Columbia P&S following our graduation,” adds Mark Chodoff. “There was a tradition at P&S of producing old Broadway musicals each year. Our first year there, the show chosen was Guys and Dolls. I, as a Dramat techie emeritus, built the sets. Eric was a smoooooooth Guy Masterson, and Walt played Nicely Nicely Johnson. A lovely Vassar girl who was in her first year of Nursing School was cast as the female lead, Sarah Brown. Her name was Abigail Bantham, but that changed in September of 1968 when we married. And this September it will be 55 years.

“I will cherish my memories of Erik.”