John E. Eckerle, MD, 95, Louisville

John E. Eckerle, MD, 95, of Louisville, died Thursday, July 23. He was born in Jasper to Anton J. and Rosina Fink Eckerle.

Dr. John was a member of the Roman Catholic Church. In his early years he was an altar boy and Master of Ceremony under Father Roman and sang in the eight voice men’s and boys’ choir under the direction of Frank J. “Prof” Leopker, longtime organist at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper. He was a 1942 graduate of Jasper High School, a charter member of the school band and orchestra playing the French horn. He was also a member of the Jasper Municipal (City) Band under the direction of Leo Durlauf and the Haysville Band. During World War II he served as a German interpreter in the POW camps in America and was an administrative NCO. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal of Honor for his meritorious service. He was a 1949 graduate and lifelong supporter of Purdue University where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree, was active in student government, and was a member of the military marching band. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine in 1958 from the University of Louisville and did his hospital residency at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

He served as medical director at Reynolds Metal Company in Louisville. During that time he was instrumental in organizing the first Governor’s Conference on Occupational Health and Safety in the state of Kentucky. For this effort he was awarded a membership in the Royal Order of Kentucky Colonels. He also served on the Kentucky Governor’s Council on Alcoholism in Industry. Other medical endeavors included surgical thoracic assistant, Silvercrest Hospital in New Albany, and staff physician at Dupont Chemical Company and General Electric Appliance Park. He established a primary care office of medicine in Louisville, a solo practice he sustained in excess of 30 years. During this time he served on the executive committee of St. Anthony Hospital in Louisville. He was also a member of the medical staffs of Kentucky Baptist, Highland Baptist, Baptist East, and Suburban Hospitals, all in Louisville.

Dr. John was an avid family genealogist, searching for his family ancestral home. After many years of research and with the help of Jasper Library Librarian Lillian Doane, he found his great-grandfather John George Eckerle’s citizenship application to the U.S., which stated his place of birth as Pfaffenweiler, in the Duchee of Baden Germany. In 1978 he traveled to Pfaffenweiler and with the help of Luise Eichhorn discovered he was the first direct descendant of the 11 families which had traveled from Pfaffenweiler to Jasper in 1847 to return to their home village.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, M. Margaret Davis Eckerle; two daughters, Diane Eckerle and Judy E. Quinlan and husband Tom; three sons, John D. Eckerle and wife Sheila Lee, Bruce T. Eckerle and wife Kim, and his heart-adopted son, Charles Bacigalupi; seven grandchildren, Jennifer M. Kessler (Kelly), Nathan F. Johnson (Lauren Gawthrop), Claire Quinlan, Colleen Quinlan and fiancé Jon Olsen, Trey Quinlan and wife Giselle, and Christin and Catherine Eckerle; and a number of nieces and nephews and their families.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by three sisters, Rita Hahn (Gene), Dora Schmitt (Bandy), and Joan Schipp (Rich), four brothers, Herb Eckerle (Martha), Arnie Eckerle (Irene), Bernard Eckerle (Leona), and Richard Eckerle (Romeldia), three nephews, Charles Eckerle (Godchild) and Gerald and Kenneth Hahn, and one niece, Janice Eckerle Kaye.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Church in Jasper with burial following in Fairview Cemetery. VFW Post 673 will conduct military graveside rites. Masks and social distancing guidelines will be required in church. Because of virus restrictions, there will be no visitation before the church service. In lieu of flowers or gifts memorial donations can be made to the St. Joseph Church Maintenance Fund, Eternal Word Television Network, specifying daily Mass Broadcasts, 5817 Old Leeds Rd., Irondale, AL 35210, Jasper VFW Post 673, or to your favorite charity. Online condolences can be shared at www.becherkluesner.com.

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