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In the great long ago, two co-workers teamed up to play a gag on Charlie Eckert.
How funny, they thought, if they were to maneuver an iron hook from the shop ceiling to goose his rear end. They missed. And conked Charlie square in the head. He dropped like a ton of bricks. However, by the time his two friends ran to the shop floor to see if they’d killed him, Charlie was up on his knees, shaking his head and cursing them mightily.
From that day forward, Charles Llewellyn Eckert was “Ironhead.”
It was most appropriate.
And after a life lived stubbornly to the last, Charlie, 86, of Lower Heidelberg Township, died Oct. 28, 2018, in Good Samaritan Hospice in Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
Born Dec. 20, 1931, in Kutztown, Charlie was the son of Llewellyn and Pearl (Reider) Eckert, the middle child between sisters Julia and Eleanor. He grew up a typical child of the Depression, getting lectures on how a nickel for a Snickers bar would be better served putting a quarter-pound of Lebanon bologna on the table for lunch.
By the time he hit his teen years, he entered basketball-crazy Kutztown High School. He was a tuba-playing band geek, and eventually voted “Most Extracurricular” in the Class of 1949. He sadly found he wasn’t quite talented enough to play varsity hoops for legendary Berks County coach John Silan; however, he was well-liked enough to be made team manager and make many lifelong friends.
He also met the partner of his lifetime. He and classmate Joan Rose Alesi met as underclassmen, went on their first official date Dec. 31, 1948, and eventually married on April 7, 1951. Theirs was a tempestuous relationship – it was their dynamic to be regularly bickering – but they were together, for better or worse, up until the end: Joan died a mere week after her love of seven decades.
Charlie – “with a lot of help” – built their forever home just outside Sinking Spring. He and Joan moved in on Aug. 1, 1960, and, raising daughters Linda and Laura along the way, remained there until just a few days prior to Charlie’s passing. As he always said, “The only way you’re getting me out of this house is when you carry me feet first.” The Ironheaded One pretty much got his wish.
Charlie remained “Most Extracurricular” throughout his long life, too. After a varied work life that began as a gofer for his contractor father, he spent 30 years at Polymer Corporation in Northmont, another dozen at Elf Atochem in Birdsboro, retired, then went into the powder coatings and extrusion business for himself at Wyomissing Specialties in Bernville. He also served as a supervisor in Lower Heidelberg Township, and was longtime member and officer for both the Kutztown basketball alumni group the Cougar Tale, and Green Valley Country Club.
He is survived by his daughters, Linda J. Corcoran of Moorestown, New Jersey, and Laura A. Thompson of Mount Joy, and with them, sons-in-law Kevin W. Corcoran and Brian S. Thompson. There is also his beloved granddaughter, Kelly E. Corcoran of Helsinki, Finland. His sister Eleanor Graupp of Exeter Township also survives, as well as many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10th in the Chapel of Resurrection at Gethsemane Cemetery, 3139 Kutztown Road, Reading (Muhlenberg Township), PA 19605.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cougar Tale, c/o Ron Siegfried, 3620 Church Road, Easton, PA 18045.
Stitzel Family Funeral Homes & Crematory, Inc., Laureldale is in charge of arrangements.
For online condolences, visit StitzelFamilyFuneralHomes.com