Brian Douglas Pfister loved well. He loved God, his job, and his community, but most of all, he loved his family, his wife Erica and daughters Alexia and Lily.
After fighting with everything he had to heal his wounds, Brian chose to end his journey here on earth on Sunday, May 16, 2021. As his family and all of you today grapple with this unimaginable loss, we reflect on the beautiful ways Brian lived and loved.
Brian was born on January 17, 1981 in Hillsboro, Oregon to Douglas Pfister and Christine Anderson. Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Brian was an active kid. He played baseball, wrestled, golfed, skied a lot, and dreamed of growing big enough to play in the NFL for his beloved Broncos.
Brian’s favorite childhood memories included visiting spring training camps, skiing, time with his cousins and visiting Uncle Dean. Brian’s most treasured time was spent at Grandpa D’s farm in Glenns Ferry. D instilled a good work ethic and filled a void of love that Brian very much needed. He held Grandpa D close into adulthood, carrying a silver dollar in his vest pocket and giving Lily his name. A highlight of every childhood summer was attending Sawtooth Methodist Camp, where he began to grow in his relationship with Jesus.
If you asked Brian about his life, he’d likely say it truly began when he met Erica in July 2001. They were just 19 and 20 years old. Erica was a CNA at St. Luke’s Boise, where Brian’s mom worked as a nurse. After a slightly awkward first meeting and Erica being accidentally stood up, they finally spent a first date meeting for coffee and talking until Starbucks closed.
Speeding past the light and breezy honeymoon phase, Brian and Erica were married and he gained a very large family. With daughter Alexia on the way and Erica’s recent acceptance to nursing school, Brett and Joan Spencer knew they would need support and welcomed them into their home. Brian and Erica were able to save money and buy their first house, and Lily followed two years later.
Brian worked throwing bags for an airline and working at call centers while supporting Erica through nursing school, but was soon ready for something more. He had always been mesmerized by aircraft; always looking up to spot and identify planes. This passion, combined with a meticulous nature and strong work ethic, made Brian an ideal candidate for air traffic control school. With a little push from Grandma Ginnie, Brian and the family headed to the University of Alaska at Anchorage for the air traffic control program.
The family was thrilled to return to Idaho after a couple of freezing years in Anchorage. After a brief stop in Boise, Brian was assigned to Magic Valley Regional Airport and the Pfisters landed in Twin Falls.
To say Brian excelled at his job is an understatement. At one of only two non-radar approach towers in the nation, Brian quickly made himself irreplaceable. He was the guy who trained everyone else. Brian served a few years as president of the local union, and even became a supervisor before deciding he missed his job as a Controller too much. If it was up to the colleagues he worked with over his 12 years, the tower at the Twin Falls Airport would be renamed the Brian Pfister Tower.
Wherever life took them, Brian and Erica had a way of creating a “framily;” Twin Falls was no exception. Brian is known as “Uncle Brian” to many. Twin Falls was supposed to be a brief layover, but 3 years in, the Pfisters found their roots strongly established. They became involved in the Twin Falls Reformed Church, where Brian and Erica continued to build their “framily.”
In the Pfister home hangs a sign: “The Gathering Place.” Over the years, their home and patio has become a true gathering place for friends, family, church groups and teammates. Walk in and immediately feel welcomed. It’s full of life and love and laughter. That’s what Brian and Erica built together.
To those Brian loved, he was generous and humble to a fault. On a given day, you’d see Brian getting up early to make the girls breakfast, bring lunch to school when mornings had the girls running out of the house, touching base with Erica throughout the day just to let her know he was thinking of her, or helping a friend fix cars, work on sprinklers, or serve at church. Though Brian hated musicals, he wanted to take Lily to see Hamilton for the pure joy of watching her watch it. That’s classic Brian: always making sure others are happy, instinctively putting others’ needs and wants before his own.
Brian was also FUN. When Brian came around, you knew laughter wasn’t far behind. A huge Seinfeld and Office fan, Brian could be counted on to chime in with a perfectly timed “That’s what she said,” or pay tribute to National Lampoons with “Bend over and I’ll show ya.” He loved sending memes to the girls and telling the same corny dad jokes. Brian had the best laugh. The girls would often wrestle with their dad just to get close enough to tickle him and hear that infectious laugh.
Brian’s idea of a perfect day was when everyone wanted to do something together. Camping, hiking, golfing, boating, hunting, skiing…whatever his friends and family wanted to do, he was game. Brian loved to cook and smoke meat. His preference would be to eat red meat every day, and only eat vegetables because he had to. He was also known to indulge in chocolate cake (daily when on a cruise) and “accidentally” get midnight tacos at Jack in the Box with Lexi. At the top of Brian’s joy list was the feel of new socks; if he were a millionaire, he would treat himself to a brand new pair every day.
While Brian loved to hang out in groups, his most treasured moments were those spent with Erica, Lexi and Lily. Just the four of them - whether visiting national parks, traveling to the beaches or mountains, skiing, sharing memes, attending sporting events, or sporting matching jammies on Christmas morning. Erica and the girls were his whole world.
Brian and Erica have been true partners in marriage and parenthood. Erica describes Brian as the nurturer of the family and Brian called Erica the family’s glue. Brian urged his girls to try everything, to figure out what they liked, and go for it. And once they picked something—cheerleading, softball, singing—he was all in. He showed up. Any event Brian could be at, he was there. Every time.
Brian’s proudest and most beautiful legacy is the safe and loving home he and Erica created for their girls. In whatever ways Brian struggled in youth, he strived to make sure his daughters didn’t. He sought at every turn to give them what he didn’t have. More than anything, Brian always wanted the best for Erica and the girls, a life full of abundant happiness and calm delight.
Brian loved to read non-fiction, especially adventure stories like Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer’s harrowing account of summiting Everest. Perhaps he was so captivated because Brian dealt with his own Everests that at times seemed as insurmountable as the highest mountain on earth. He gave grace for everyone but himself, loved everyone but himself. He worked so hard to summit his Everest, to be there for what mattered most--his family.
Even when engulfed by inner turmoil, Brian held on tightly to his faith in God. He believed that God is
good. He may not have known how God was working, but he trusted that He was. In the midst of deep grief and devastation, there is so much we don’t know and can’t understand. In one of Brian’s favorite songs (tattoo inspirations) he knew no matter how it ends, if you put your faith and hope in Jesus, We Win. Because of this we are certain that Brian is with Jesus. We know because of how he loved that he will continue to remain in the hearts of those who loved him. And hopefully, he’s in a brand spanking new pair of socks every day.
Brian loved and was loved by family and friends too numerous to name or count. The Pfister family is eternally grateful for all of your ongoing love, support, but mostly for helping them carry this burden. Your love and willingness to show up has eased their pain. Please continue to join them in carrying on Brian’s legacy by loving well, showing up, being authentic, and seeking help.