Jerome (Jerry) Eichert, 91, of Anderson Township, passed away on Wednesday, August 28, at Hospice of Cincinnati’s Care Center in Anderson Township. The loving husband of Jean Eichert, he is survived by children Karen, Mary, Bill, David (Carol) and Margaret (Jay) Robinson, as well as 10 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, September 7 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Anderson Township, with reception following. In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties https://clermontbrownliteracy.org/
Jerry was born in 1928, when the world was about to change. Still, in 90 years since then, he remained a gentleman and a leader whose accomplishments touched so many more people than we’ll ever know.
He was smart and funny and yet very private even for those who were close to him. Starting as an accountant with Carlisle Tire & Rubber (Carlisle, PA), he helped the local tire company diversify into Carlisle Corporation, where he was CFO for many years until his retirement in the early 1990s.
Retirement didn’t slow him down. He just changed hats and shared his talent and expertise with various organizations such as Cincinnati Horticultural Society (Cincinnati Flower Show), Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties, and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, to name a few. He directed his financial talent to helping those groups as well as many more people over the years. He also tutored students and aspiring readers.
Jerry was born in a family apartment above the family hardware store in tiny Manoa, now Havertown, several miles northwest of Philadelphia. By the time Jerry was four, the Depression had closed the store and the family was living in northeast Philadelphia. Theirs was a fairly large family, with father Edwin Stuart Eichert Sr. and mother Mary Julia Eichert (nee Troutman) and five sons: Stuart, John (Jack), Jerry, Gordon and Brinton.
When Jerry was five, the family had moved to a rural area outside Philadelphia. As the Depression clenched its grip on the country, Edwin Sr. was fortunate to work as an electrical mechanic, commuting to work six days a week to support the family through the nation’s tough times.
Well water, septic tanks, telephone party lines, hand-shoveled coal-fire furnaces, drip-dry laundry and home-delivery milk were part of Jerry’s early years. The family lived in a two-bedroom bungalow with packed-earth walls and an un-insulated attic, where for a while even the alarm clock froze. It was a humble beginning by today’s standards, but as Jerry himself said, “…we didn’t recognize it…” Despite the economy, Jerry’s family set aside money for education. He and his brothers graduated high school and later went into the armed services and/or completed higher education, often with scholarship help.
Jerry graduated fourth in his Abington Senior High School class in 1947, earning a full four-year scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania--founded by Benjamin Franklin!--in Philadelphia, transferring after two years to the university’s prestigious Wharton School and graduating in 1951. (He also became secretly engaged to future wife Jean in 1947.)
After two years with the U.S. Army in Newfoundland, he applied to accounting firm Peat, Marwick, and Mitchell, which hired him, soon assigning him to an inventory job at Carlisle Tire & Rubber (near Gettysburg and Harrisburg). That job led to managing the company’s audit as well as an eventual offer to be its controller. By the end of his 33 years with the company, he had been its Vice President and Treasurer and eventually Chief Financial Officer. By then the company had grown from its 1917 roots producing single ply rubber roofing and bicycle inner tubes to becoming Carlisle Corporation and eventually Carlisle Companies, Inc. Under his financial leadership, Carlisle rose to become a member of the Fortune 500. Today, Carlisle’s worldwide market includes roofing, polyurethane and metals, as well as aerospace, medical, defense, industrial, construction and more, with $4.5 billion in revenues in 2018.
Jerry married Jean Kay in 1950 in Philadelphia, and they moved the family to the Carlisle, Pennsylvania area in the latter 1950s. By then, son Bill had joined daughters Karen and Mary. After a brief stint in Mount Holly and the countryside outside Carlisle, the family arrived at its West South Street home, where son David and daughter Meg joined the crew. The Eicherts lived there for several years.
While his family and company grew, Jerry and his clan were involved in St. John’s Episcopal Church ministry. An active member, Jerry was also the church organist and choir director. In addition, Jerry was on the Carlisle School Board and active in community events, showing off his performance skills with wife Jean, including singing and dancing in the Carlisle Hospital (fundraising) follies.
By the time his oldest daughter started college, Jerry’s company had moved headquarters to Cincinnati, where the rest of his children finished public school and college, eventually setting up homes with their own families.
Jerry’s retirement wasn’t going to keep him busy enough unless he found new outlets, which, of course, he did. He enjoyed golf, gardening, reading and crossword puzzles, classical music and community work.
By 1994, he was spending 30 hours a week maintaining the accounting records of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society. Established in 1989, the society produced the Cincinnati Flower Show for many years and still maintains a Gardener Recognition program, Secret Garden Tour and other awards programs acknowledging exceptional horticultural achievement.
As society Board President Cynthia S. Muhlhauser notes, “The CHS really can't express the gratitude that we have all felt for Jerry since the beginning of the Flower Show when Jerry came on board. Everyone on our board respected and adored (him) … He was an incredibly kind and generous gentleman and a leader.”
Jerry also devoted more and more hours over the years to helping people help themselves. In 2019, he was still very active in the Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties as Secretary/Treasurer. In addition to tutoring aspiring readers, Jerry maintained the organizations accounting and helped lead the group’s annual spelling bee.
“It will be so very difficult to say good-bye to someone who made such a significant impact on our lives and on the work of teaching individuals reading and writing,” says Executive Director Susan Vilardo, “Maybe A.A. Milne from The House at Pooh Corner says it best as Piglet walks with Pooh: ‘If you live to be a hundred, I want to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.’ Thank you Jerry, for taking such good care of The Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties all these many years. You were a gift.”
Jerry still had plenty of time for taking part in the community life at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, where Jerry sang in the choir and served as a backup organ player. He and Jean headed a project to acquire a mechanical-action pipe organ for the church. Jean still directs the church’s Country Store fall fundraiser, where Jerry’s popular Jerry’s Jellies were a hit for many years. By 2019, he had made well over 1,000 jars in 25 different flavors.
Jerry’s family life has always been busy, even more so as the family grew after relocating to southwest Ohio. All five children currently make their homes in or within driving distance of the Tristate, now joined by 10 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Jean and Jerry also have opened the Eichert home to many, many others, taking in friends of their children and hosting guests including pianists for the World Piano Competition, another of Jerry’s volunteer endeavors.
Family gatherings grew from one large table to several tables scattered around the Eichert’s eastside home.
Daughter Karen has two children, daughter Stephanie Muecke (Nathan), with daughters Peyton and Lauren; son Andy Schrock (Brittany) has sons Ryden and Syris. Daughter Mary has daughter Grace and son Bill is uncle to all of the kids.
Son David (Carol) has six children. They include Joy, Justin, David and Paul; daughter Holly McAlister (Scott), has son Milo and daughter Remi. Dave’s daughter Natalie has daughter Hayley. Jerry’s youngest, Meg Robinson (Jay), has one son, John.
Every bit the “traditional Dad,” as son Dave puts it; Jerry shared his gifts with his children.
“My respect for Dad grows with each passing year,” notes Dave, now also an accountant. “I appreciate his wisdom, generosity, loyalty and friendship.”
From daughter Meg, now an occupational therapist: “When I was growing up, I was often intimidated by Dad’s gruff and business-like exterior. Dad, thank you for being a teddy bear underneath.”
Daughter Mary, who inherited her father’s teaching skills to work as a paraprofessional, continues to reach out to students who need help learning: “In giving me Dad for my father, Jesus has shown His infinite love toward me…The love and care Dad has shown me throughout my life is countless.”
Jerry once said that if he had to do his work life over again, he would have liked to be a concert pianist. And indeed, he shared his love of music in many ways in churches and with the World Piano Competition, which ended in 2017.
Son Bill, who works in the service industry inherited that musical talent---and talent for observation: “Dad was always supportive of my musical pursuits. He helped me with my piano and violin, making sure I had the equipment I needed. Even when I got into rock’n’roll, he saw to it that I got the room at the other end of the house.”
Daughter Karen, a copy editor and tutor, inherited Jerry’s love of words and reading and watching mysteries. When he was ill, Jerry was still reading and handing off mysteries he enjoyed to her. He also passed along his endless love of grammar to Karen and all of the children. “Supper with all of us gathered around the kitchen table in Carlisle was as much grammar and pronunciation lesson as meal,” she recalls.
Jerry’s family has also included countless (really) animal friends over the years, from Nicky, the family’s first dachshund in Pennsylvania, to Jerry’s best canine buddies Bob, Betsy, and Fred, all with him now. Jean has mothered endless kittens and cats, and son David brought birds, raccoons, reptiles and more into the mix.
Some of Jerry’s grandchildren remember unique things about him. A sampling:
The family can all also agree with grandson John Robinson: “Grandpa is so amazing he is able to teach the fundamentals of life without even leaving his office. I thank you for all you have done for me.”
His whole family can picture this scene that grandson Justin Eichert recalls: “Grandpa is full of constructive advice; the most frequent being ‘shave’.”
And, from grandson Andy Schrock: “Grandpa, to call you successful is an understatement: You worked your way to the top of the Carlisle Company. You care for and help shape the lives of people you don’t have to care for. You try to help in places that others don’t take time for. And most importantly, you raised a great family. I thank you wholeheartedly for everything that you have done for all of us. I know I inherited your name, but when I celebrate my 80th birthday, I hope people will be able to say I inherited a lot more from you.”