Alumni News Archives

Wisconsin’s Oldest Rowing Alumni Deceased

Paul O. Eckhardt, Jr., age 96, of Garrison, NY, died on Friday, October 21, 2005 at the Veterans Administration Castle Point Campus, NY from heart failure. Born in New York City on June 6, 1909, he was the son of Paul O. and Marie Charlotte Eckhardt.

After graduating from the McBurney School in New York City, he attended the University of Connecticut at Storrs. At the start of his junior year, in the fall of 1931, Eckhardt transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His purpose was to participate in the school’s
varsity rowing program, which sport he had learned while visiting family in Germany the prior summer. Eckhardt rowed for UW coach George “Mike” Murphy. While there for two Depression-limited seasons, Paul’s affection for and loyalty to the program never ended. At UW, he was a also a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and attained the rank of Captain in the UW Corps of Cadets.

After graduation in 1933 with a BS from Wisconsin, Paul frequently attended Wisconsin’s crew races, often as the Athletic Department’s official representative, at such east coast races as the Poughkeepsie Regatta on the Hudson River. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, he frequently organized dinners for the crew at the Phi Gamma Delta building in New York City. In 1948, Paul wrote a history of the Badger crews as part of the school’s Centennial Athletic Review (1848 to 1948). In the early 1950’s, Paul served as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Crew Corporation and actively corresponded with UW’s crew coaches and the university’s rowing alumni. He was also a member of the UW Foundation’s Bascom Hill Society.

A World War II veteran, Paul served as a Captain in the United States Army Special Troops 27th Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga. He was a Life member in the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans associations. He worked for the Veterans Administration as a Regional Contact Officer and retired in 1964.

Paul is survived by his twin children - son Peter Eckhardt and daughter Paula Huisman - and 7 grandchildren - Gregory, Matthew, Douglas, Peter Jr., Paul, Christopher and Theresa and a great grandson, Talon. A son, Paul O. Eckhardt, III, preceded Paul in death by three weeks, which is known to have weakened the elder Eckhardt.

Over his lifetime, Paul had been a regular and generous contributor to the crew programs at UW, including the Porter Boat House campaign; the Jablonic Boat Fund, the pre-publication support for Wisconsin Where They Row; the Women’s Boat Fund; and the George “Mike” Murphy Endowment Fund for Men’s Crew, the latter in honor of his former coach.

A private family memorial service was held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the VA Chapel at Castle Point, NY. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations may be made to the Murphy Fund at the UW Foundation and the New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY.


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