MIDDLEFIELD - Walter Charles Eckler, 83, passed away peacefully, at his home in Phoenix Mills, surrounded by his family, following a long illness, on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.
Walter was born on May 17, 1934, in Hyde Park (Otsego County), only two miles from his lifelong residence with his wife, Dorothy Ann (Robinson) Eckler.
Walter was an eighth generation descendant of the Ecklers who immigrated to the United States (Herkimer County) in the late 1600's from the Palatine Region of Germany.
He is predeceased by his father, Harvey Eckler II (1969), who trained him in his lifelong career as an auto mechanic. In his teens he was employed by his father at Welch's Chevrolet, Railroad Avenue, Cooperstown, and later Bob Sperry Chevrolet, Route 28, Cooperstown. He later acquired ownership of the dealership with his co-workers. He is also predeceased by his mother, Helen (Brady) Eckler, (1999) who was employed at the Cooperstown Creamery and Mary Imogene Basset Hospital.
Walter was very active in his community and with his numerous friends. He retired (2000) after 45 years from Cooperstown Engine Company No. 1. He had a passion for the 1953 Mack pumper. Additionally, he is highly remembered for his efforts at the annual Fourth of July chicken barbecue celebration at Lake Front Park. Along with dear friends, he was the co-founder of the local 40 & 8 and a lifetime member of American Legion Post 579 due to his service in the National Guard during the Korean War. He was also a member of the Native Sons of Cooperstown. Walter enjoyed antique cars, local history, hunting, NASCAR, helping others and spending time with his family and friends.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy Ann (Robinson) Eckler; three children, Bonita "Bonnie" K. (Eckler) Varney and husband, Paul D. of Cooperstown, Brenda K. Eckler (and companion, Todd A. Dibble) of Slatersville, Rhode Island, Bruce K. Eckler (and companion, Donna B. Lauzon) of Huntington, West Virginia; four grandchildren, Charles W. Varney, Weslee A. Eckler, Shannon L. Eckler and Kurtis W. Eckler; one great-grandchild, Kyra S. Varney; one brother, Harvey Eckler III (Alice) of Cooperstown; numerous nieces and nephews; and his furry friend, Toby. He will be remembered for his fun-loving attitude and nature by his numerous friends.
The family expresses its gratitude to Elizabeth Partlow, Sarah Shultis, Barbara Tansey, Kathy Palmeter, and the caregivers, nurses and doctors at Catskill Area Hospice for ensuring his dignity throughout his illness.
At his request there will be no formal service. A celebration of his life will be held in 2018.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests contributions be made in Walter's name to Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, 297 River St. Service Oneonta, NY 13820 or Susquehanna Animal Shelter, 4841 Route 28, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements are with Tillapaugh Funeral Service, Cooperstown.
Published on December 20, 2017