Thomas Eckard Sr., 62, businessman, served on Westminster council

July 19, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Thomas W. Eckard Sr., a businessman, civic activist and former member of the Westminster City Council, died Thursday in a boating accident off the Delaware shore. He was 62.

He was elected to four-year terms on the Westminster City Council in 1970 and 1983. He resigned midway through his first term because of a heart ailment.

During his years on the council, he looked to balance the need for additional services in a growing Westminster and a desire to hold down taxes.

"He appreciated that you had to run city services like a business -- we didn't have a bottomless pit of money here," said Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan, who was elected to the council with Mr. Eckard in 1983. "He was very sensitive as far as the needs of people in the city."

He praised Mr. Eckard's forthright manner.

"If you asked him a question, you got an honest opinion. He wouldn't tell you what you wanted to hear. He told you what he felt," Mr. Yowan said.

In 1993, Mr. Eckard allowed his name to be used in a write-in campaign for mayor to show displeasure with City Hall. He said he did not seek the office or expect to win. He garnered 33 write-in votes.

The Westminster native graduated from St. John High School in 1954 and soon after became an insurance agent. In 1958, he began a 20-year career with Hanline Paint Co. He started as a sales representative and worked his way up to vice president, director of sales and a board member.

During those years, he and his wife, the former Erma Louise Gross, owned a stationery store, which they sold in 1977.

In 1983, he and his son, Thomas W. Eckard Jr., opened Eldersburg Paint Store.

He and a brother, S. Tony Eckard, co-owned Eckard's Wallpaper and Paint Store in Westminster, a family business that opened in 1947 and closed in 1994. As a youth, Mr. Eckard helped in the store.

He served in the Maryland National Guard from 1953 to 1963 and was discharged as a master sergeant. He was named Soldier of the Year three times.

He was active in community and sporting organizations. Among them, he served as president of the Carroll County Republican Club, Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company, the Forest and Stream Club, and St. John's Parents and Friends. Last year, he was president of the Carroll County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, an organization for outdoorsmen.

He enjoyed fishing, golf and traveling.

Mr. Eckard died on a fishing trip when the 20-foot boat he was in took on water and capsized off Lewes, according to Delaware Fish and Wildlife officials.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Pritts Funeral Home & Chapel, 412 Washington Road, Westminster.

In addition to his wife of 41 years, son and brother, survivors include his parents, William M. Eckard Jr. and Mary Catherine Massicott Eckard; and a daughter, Jeanne Bowman, all of Westminster; a sister, Margaret Anne Mandell of Greenbrae, Calif.; brothers James M. Eckard of Westminster and Michael F. Eckard of Williamsburg, Va.; and two grandsons.

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