Eric Cole Kitchen
Eric Cole Kitchen, a local attorney, died of a heart attack on May 23rd in his home in Santa Barbara. He was 62.
Mr. Kitchen is perhaps best known locally for his 38-year law practice, specializing in civil litigation, but to his closest friends and family, he was also a sensitive, complex, and multifaceted man. Undeniably, he never went anywhere unnoticed: his magnetic personality and gift for storytelling attracted markedly different groups of people throughout his life, from hippies to suburban families, local waiters to international yogis, and historians to personal trainers. Wherever he went, life was never boring.
Growing up in Somis, California, an agricultural town of less than 2500, Mr. Kitchen was extremely bright and yearned for an intellectual, alternative life. He went on to earn a BA in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1972, and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1975. For 25 years, Mr. Kitchen ran a successful law firm, Kitchen and Turpin, along with his friend and fellow attorney David Turpin. Their 6th-floor office in downtown Santa Barbara’s Balboa Building was the site for many cherished Fiesta parties, where Mr. Kitchen’s sense of humor and witty irreverence wildly entertained his friends and guests.
Mr. Kitchen is survived by his two daughters, Camille Mills Kitchen MacRae, 29, and Marina Mills Kitchen, 27. In their childhood, he and his wife of two decades, Megan Mills Kitchen Ace, took them on many trips into the wilderness, leading long walks through Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Forest, and Yellowstone. His deep understanding of nature, fondness for animals, and love for adventure made for innumerable compelling stories. He never returned from a camping trip without at least one account of a ferocious bear he met or a backpack full of food he nearly lost in a river.
In his late 50s, Mr. Kitchen began to regularly practice yoga and meditation. He often expressed his desire to teach enlightenment and peace as Ghandi and Buddha themselves did, something he thought was lacking in the field of law. After his death, Mr. Kitchen left behind a suitcase full of informational DVDs on the subjects of meditation and enlightenment. Perhaps he had his bags packed.
A celebration of Eric’s life for family and friends will be held in Santa Barbara next year. His ashes will also be scattered at a later date by his daughters, half in the mountains and half in the sea. His intellect, curiosity, and one-of-a-kind perspective on the world will be forever loved and missed by all.