Dr Erik Walter Borg
Service order for
Dr Erik Borg
Service Date09-Dec-20 at 2:40
Service ChapelChapel – Chester
Webcast:Live Webcast & Watch Again
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Erik Walter Borg was born on December 13, 1945, in Washington D.C. He died unexpectedly on November 12, 2020, in Ellesmere Port, United Kingdom. The distance between these two dates and locations was filled by a life of integrity, kindness, and passion. He will be deeply missed by his family on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.


Growing up in Oxon Hill, Maryland, he developed a deep love of the outdoors, which was reinforced through his time as an Eagle Scout. Living on the edge of the segregated south, he was deeply inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and participated in the 1965 March on Selma. He was struck by the injustice he saw, and chose to actively live in a way that reflected his beliefs in equality and concern for those less fortunate.


Erik loved literature and academia. He earned a BA in English Literature at Middlebury College, and an MA at the University of Chicago, doing his thesis on the work of W.B. Yeats. It was at Middlebury that he met Susan Gallagher, and they married there in 1969. Erik was drafted soon thereafter and shipped to Okinawa. Though he was passionately against the Vietnam War, it bothered his conscience deeply that his privilege could keep him from serving, while others who didn’t have those resources had to go.


He had started taking photos in college and it quickly became a passion. Erik had an artist’s eye and an engineer’s precision; approaching photography as a craft that helped frame and explain the world. Erik took his camera wherever he went in those postgraduate years while he moved to South Boston and San Francisco. In 1971, they returned to Middlebury, Vermont, and Erik worked as a freelance photographer in that community for the next 25 years.


Erik’s work as a photographer was primarily divided between publicity for Middlebury College and documenting the craftwork of Vermont’s artists and artisans. The group of photos he may be most widely known for are from 1973, when he traveled to Lapland to take pictures for National Geographic.  He documented in strikingly vivid ways the lives of the Sami people, and the role that reindeer played in these indigenous communities.  A photo from this collection became the cover of the September 1977 issue of National Geographic, and some of his work from this expedition is preserved in the Sami National Archives.


Erik and Susan’s daughter Kelley was born in 1974. Though they divorced in 1987, their relationship remained amicable and respectful, as they focused on their shared love for their daughter, and the principles of kindness they both lived by.


In 1996, Erik’s career and life changed course when he spent a year teaching English at the Jiangsu University of Science and Technology in China. Erik returned from that year with a deep love of China and a fascination with the process of teaching people to write academic English. He went back to school and earned an MA in TESOL and then a PhD in Academic Writing, both from the University of Leeds. While at Leeds, Erik met his second wife, Michaela (Cousins) Borg.  He went on to teach at Northumbria University, and retired from Coventry University just this past summer.


Erik and Michaela built a rich life in England, full of travel and rescue dogs. Though he did gain British citizenship in 2014, he never got a British driver’s license, in part because he started biking wherever he needed to go. This soon grew into a new passion for him. He began restoring vintage bikes for local rides and with encouragement from Michaela, he began joining sportives and other unique road races. Michaela joined him in cycling, and together they traveled as far as Italy for him to ride in L’Eroica Gaiole in Chianti.  In 2018, Erik cycled the length of the UK – from Land’s End to John O’Groats. He was fit and full of vigor when he took a fatal fall from one of his favorite bikes last week.


For those who knew Erik, his accomplishments were often hidden behind his innate modesty. While we will all remember his deep love of books and art, his commitment to social justice, his passion for politics (both British and American), and his extraordinary gourmet cooking – it is his quiet and thoughtful approach to others, his gentle kindness, that will be missed the most.  He lived qualities that our world could use more of right now, and he set a good example for those of us he has left behind.


Erik is predeceased by his parents, Walter Theodore Borg and Evelyn Alice Nelson Borg and his brother Arthur Nelson Borg. He is survived by his wife Michaela (Cousins) Borg of Ellesmere Port, UK, his sister Ellen (Borg) Kinzer and husband Karlton of Pennsylvania, daughter Kelley Borg Duffy and her husband Eric of Maine, and his granddaughters Helen and Fiona.


The service for Erik will take place in Chester on Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 1440. The service will be streamed, and the family will share details over social media.


In lieu of flowers, Erik would have preferred that you donate to a charity that he supported: The Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED), Doctors Without Borders, or your local animal rescue.

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9 responses to “Dr Erik Walter Borg”

  1. Patrick J Cooney says:

    Margaret and I were saddened to learn, just today, of Erik’s untimely death. We fondly remember the many experiences we shared with Erik, Susan, and Kelley in Middlebury and, later, our visits with Erik in London, with Erik and Michaela in Pennsylvania, and with Kelley and her family and Susan in Maine. We are deeply grateful for the time we shared with Erik and all those close to him.

  2. Chris Bland says:

    I was one of the lucky people to have worked with Eric and benefit from his gentle and thoughtful approach to the development of education. His influence resulted in a personal lifelong enhancement. The knowledge he generously shared will go on providing support to those he met.

    • Arina Cirstea says:

      He was a wonderful educator and colleague, and his passing away is such a terrible shock and loss. May he rest in peace, and deepest condolences to the family

  3. Mary Deane says:

    I am privileged to have known (and deeply admired) Erik as his colleague at Coventry University. He was a true friend in times of need, and ALWAYS had the answer to every type of question – from ‘What shall I do, my boyfriend dumped me?’ to ‘Have you got a list of references about this obscure theoretical framework?’

    Erik and Kyla gave me my only authentic taste (and it was exquisite) of Thanksgiving long ago, which I will always recall with appreciation. Not everyone bothers to welcome colleagues into their home, but Erik as you know, was exceptionally thoughtful and giving.

    I did not get a chance to tell Erik, but I was so inspired by the depth and breadth of his linguistics know-how that I undertook a part-time applied linguistics MSc. several years ago, rather late in my career. ‘If I can be only half as good as Erik’ I told myself, ‘I will be useful’. Whilst we all want to honour Erik’s compassion and unique humour, I also wish to celebrate Erik’s Brilliance as an academic.

    Erik’s talents as an educator are unsurpassed. He had time for every single learner’s needs, plus the expertise to provide appropriate guidance, and to push (both colleagues and) students to reach their own full potential. Erik was unlike any other Teacher. Despite having rare intellectual clout, he could make everyone around him feel capable of making a valued contribution.

    If every university student had an Erik, the (UK) economy would be robust, the Arts would be flourishing, and (even) the British National Health Service would thrive. Erik’s gift was to impart outstanding guidance to others, which was transformative for every individual he helped – including me.

    Dr. Mary Deane.
    Formerly of the Centre for Academic Writing
    Coventry University.

  4. Rich & Artley Wolfson says:

    So sad to learn of Erik’s death. He and Sue were among our earliest friends when we moved to Middlebury in the 1970s. Erik was an artful, quiet, gentle, thoughtful person. We have fond memories, including Easter breakfasts with the Borgs and photo sessions for Middlebury College work. Erik’s lovely photo of the Dalai Lama during a 1980s visit to Middlebury hangs in our house. Our hearts go out to everyone in his family.

  5. Katherine Pappas Wilson says:

    Erik was a classmate at Oxon Hill Senior High School. My condolences and prayers to his family.

  6. Patrick J Cooney says:

    “The service for Erik will take place in Chester on Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 1440. The service will be streamed, and the family will share details over social media.” I hope to watch the streamed service but I am not active on social media. How else might I learn how to virtually attend it?

  7. Monica Sharma says:

    Erik was a truly Great person, an Esteemed scholar and a very Dear Friend. I feel very blessed to have known him. Erik was a very Kind and Gentle human being and his presence will be missed.

    I offer my deepest and sincerest condolences to Mrs Borg and his daughter Mrs Kelley Borg Duff family and friends. May Erik rest in peace.

  8. Monica Sharma says:

    Erik was an Esteemed Scholar, a Dear Friend and a Wonderful Colleague. Erik was a kind and very gentle human being, his presence will be missed by all. He had a very helpful warm personality.

    I offer my deepest and sincerest condolences to Mrs Borg, Erik’s daughter Mrs Kelley Duff and family and friends. May he rest in peace.

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