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Eddie Eckenrode

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Edward Relt Eckenrode III, beloved husband of Samantha (Williams) Eckenrode, died at home in Yellow Springs on May 25.

Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Eddie first came to the Dayton area in 1963 to attend the Dayton Art Institute, or DAI, which was then part of the University of Dayton. At DAI, his teachers included New York abstract expressionists Jay Milder and Anne Tabachnick, and Dayton artist Ray Must. He also remained lifelong friends with many of his fellow students from DAI, who also settled in Yellow Springs and the greater Dayton area, including his first wife, Suzanne (Thomas) Hopkins. In the mid-60s, he left college and moved to New York City, where he stretched canvasses for Roy Lichtenstein, Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, worked as an assistant to sculptor Louise Nevelson, maintained a studio across the street from abstract expressionist Adolph Gottlieb and painted artist Lester Johnson’s apartment in a trade for one of his works. Some of Eddie’s other New York artist friends and acquaintances included the late Bob Thompson, then-husband and wife artist team Red Grooms and Mimi Gross, Bill Barrell and Christopher Lane.

In Yellow Springs, he was well-known as a Xenia Avenue shopkeeper from the early 70s until his death. In 1996, he and his second wife started their own business, Sam & Eddie’s Open Books, which features a book, card and gift shop on the first floor and an art gallery and small performance space upstairs, where together they hosted over 100 public events. A dedicated and gifted painter, Eddie worked daily at the shop and his separate art studio. He left behind an extensive art collection, which is being catalogued, and the family shop, which will continue in its current location as Sam & Eddie’s Open Books and the Eddie Eckenrode Gallery.

Eddie is survived by his wife, Sam, and her mother and brother, Bambi and Whit Williams, of Yellow Springs and Springfield, by sister Nance Gaston of Harrisburg, Pa., brothers John Eckenrode of Ithaca, N.Y., Robert Eckenrode of Aleo Viseo, Calif. and Andrew Eckenrode of St. Michaels, Fla., by his daughter, Miriam Katherine Eckenrode and by his son, William Polo Chaikwang, along with several loving aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends and surrogate family from around the country. An early memorial service was held on May 30 at the Glen Helen Building, and a public celebration of life party will be held on May 31, 2011 at the Eckenrode home, located at 1114 Livermore Street, 3–5 p.m. All are welcome. Contributions may be made in Eddie’s memory to the Glen Helen Ecology Institute.


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