Cover photo for Jean K. Eichert's Obituary
Jean K. Eichert Profile Photo

Jean K. Eichert

October 21, 1929 — June 20, 2022

Jean K. Eichert, 92, of Anderson Township, passed away on Monday, June 20 at the New England Club. A loving wife for nearly 70 years, Jean joins her husband Jerry, who died at 91 in 2019. She is survived by her five children Karen, Mary, Bill, David (Carol) and Margaret (Jay) Robinson, as well as 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

While Jean is no longer with us, she left lasting memories everywhere, from intricate creations and designs to vivid and fond reminders of her talent, character, and love.

Born in 1929, Jean grew up through the Great Depression, WW2, and many other challenging times. Throughout those 90 years, she always remained a gentle, loving, and generous woman who touched so many lives. She was clever, creative, witty, amazingly adept at everything from cooking and baking, to sewing and crafts. Always willing to teach and care for those around her no matter the time and effort it took on her part.

Jean spent her childhood in the Philadelphia area with mother Doris, father William, and sister Sally, eight years younger. A sensitive girl who preferred stuffed animals to dolls, Jean played with imaginary playmates for hours and started her lifelong love affairs with cats when she was a child.

She attended Abington High School, where she met her husband Jerry in January 1947, and their romance grew rapidly:

“On Halloween night 1947, Jerry proposed to me on the corner across from the goat field. I think we had been to the movies. We were walking back to my home in Glenside Gardens. He gave me a 14-cent diamond. We did not tell anyone for two years,” she said.

Jean continued her education at the Moore Institute of Art, where she earned a bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Fashion Design in 1951, being only one of two women to achieve this. Before graduating, she also planned and had her wedding to Jerry in 1950, with Jean using her creativity and fashion skills to make not only her own lovely satin dress but all of the bridal-party dresses as well.

After marriage, Jerry served in the U.S. Army as the couple started their family in 1951 with the birth of daughter Karen at Fort Lee Army Base in Virginia. Later, they would settle down in a duplex in Glenside—near Philadelphia—where they welcomed daughter Mary in 1954 and son Bill in 1957. Jerry’s work led them west to Carlisle, where Jean continued to expand her cat menagerie. Son David was born in 1960 and daughter Meg in 1963. Those were happy years. While the children moved through the Carlisle school system, Jean was active in their lives, in the neighborhood and church, even performing in variety shows for local fundraisers. Although Jean originally intended to pursue fashion design as a career, she did not make that her life’s work but instead, she chose to stay home, raising, and guiding her five children with wit, humor, love, and kindness.

Throughout Jerry’s years with Carlisle Tire & Rubber and then Carlisle Corporation, headquartered in Cincinnati, the family first lived near Philadelphia, later moving west to Carlisle (near Harrisburg) and eventually to Cincinnati, where Jean and Jerry lived in the same house for 50 years. As her children grew, Jean was still putting her fashion talent to use, making matching outfits for her daughters, amazing Halloween costumes and much more. Those skills and talents continued when grandchildren arrived many years later since Jean was always creating new and distinctive outfits her family loved to show off. She taught others as well, beginning with helping daughter Karen learn to sew and she continued to inspire her children and then grandchildren to be creative and expressive in whatever they undertook---crafts, painting, writing, baking, or all their diverse career paths.

Proverbs 31:28 states that an excellent wife and mother will have “her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.” Here’s what Jean’s children say about her:

“Most of all I remember Mom was always there for us, from gourmet meals, we didn’t like (but were good for us in the long run), to making sure we learned to swim at the Carlisle Country Club. There were always great Christmases, Easter, and birthdays. We always knew she loved us,” daughter Mary recalls.

“I remember her wonderfully warming hugs, the smell of Jergens, her perfume (White Shoulders?) and New-Skin (to heal cracks on the hands she used so much), daughter Meg recollects “… She would awaken me every morning with a cheerful voice, until I would stretch it out so long and almost miss the bus. I remember the comfort of hearing her sewing in the room across the hall when I would be trying to fall asleep. I mostly remember always knowing no matter how far I’d roam or how much trouble I’d get into, she’d always, always be there. … Sometimes today, I long to hide behind her skirt again until all the world’s troubles go away.”

“I guess I have Mom to thank for my love of food,” son Bill recalls. “… I remember how she used to get us up and ready for school. She took care of me when I was sick---even if I was faking. I remember meeting other kids’ moms and thinking my Mom is about the most perfect of all.”

Daughter Karen’s memories also include food as a big part of family life: “Whether it was specially shaped breakfast pancakes or repurposed donuts, deep-fried fritters or hand-pulled taffy, food was a way to show love.”

Daughter Meg continues, “… she was the perfect example of a mother… She was such an example of stability that three of my best friends also call her ‘Mom.’ (And one of those I actually married.)” To confirm, son-in-law Jay remembers: “She taught me to cook and instilled in me a love for plants and gardening. I will be forever grateful for everything from bringing the Christmas tree down from the attic, and decorating it with Mom, to covering the Thanksgiving turkey with Crisco to keep her from getting her fingers dirty. And did I mention, she rescued me from wolves?”

“Mom was always around when I needed her,” son Dave recalls. “I greatly appreciate her willingness to become a part of my life and interests. From putting up with all my animals to helping me kidnap a teacher’s whale. A significant memory of Mom was getting up in the morning and finding her in the kitchen working on breakfast, going to bed, and finding Mom still there, working on her crafts. You couldn’t get up earlier or stay up later than her. Her love was seen in all she did for others and will be remembered forever.”

Jean’s impact on her children had a positive effect on all those around them as well. Meg’s childhood friends even came to refer to Jean as “Mom” in light of the significant impact and role she had in their lives. Julie Mason recalls “being grounded along with Meg by (Jean) Mom (I swear it wasn’t our fault.) but since we were allowed to be together it wasn’t much of a grounding.” Julie also remembers watching Jean in “Craft Central” (Jean’s kitchen) “wielding a glue gun like the master she was” and “seeing Mom and Pops (Jerry) share a loving kiss each evening when he got home from work.”

Julie’s twin Lisa—yes, Jean figuratively “adopted” twins!---recollects years later bringing her own children to discover the wonders of life at 5099 Signal Hill Lane, resting on the sofa with Mom (Jean) and the cats while watching the birds and admiring the garden, and recalls a wonderful Easter egg hunt and fabulous basket filled with treats, “even though I was the only kid around that year,” and of course late nights at the kitchen table talking with Mom while working on one craft or another.”

The family moved to Cincinnati around 1970 and quickly settled in a home on Signal Hill, from which Jean’s clan thrived and expanded for nearly 50 years. The family became very active in St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, where Jean led more than 40 successful seasons of its Country Store, helping volunteers not only forge lasting relationships but also craft various sewing and other projects which were sold at a festive fall sale as a fundraiser. (Jean also helped her husband with his popular “Jerry’s Jellies” which were a big hit at that same event for many years as well.)

St. Timothy’s Rev. Roger Greene remembers, “When Nancy and I moved to Cincinnati, Jean and Jerry welcomed us into their home for a three-week stay. We will be forever grateful for their support and hospitality over the course of nearly 30 years. Every Wednesday, Jean and I celebrated communion at St. Timothy’s morning service before she headed off to The Country Store. She embodied God’s steadfast love. I will be forever grateful.”

In Cincinnati, Jean was also very active in the local chapter of PEO, a philanthropic educational organization for women that provides domestic and international scholarships benefitting hundreds of women in the United States and Canada.

Jean’s consummate cooking and baking skills inspired her whole family. She created an amazing and extraordinary variety of birthday cakes annually, one for each child and grandchild, designed to perfection based upon each person’s interests. For grandson Andy, a skateboarder, the cake had a ramp and small skaters, for granddaughter Holly, frolicking mice (not real ones though)! Whatever flavor or form requested, Jean baked and decorated to perfection pies, cakes, cookies, and more. (Her personal favorites were angel food and gingerbread.). For one party, she even created a cicada-shaped cake to commemorate those periodic invasions to our community!

Family gatherings grew from one large table to several tables scattered around the Eicherts’ eastside home by the time great grandchildren arrived. Besides her direct family, Jean would welcome many others to this “extended Eichert family” whether they be high school friends and exchange students, college roommates, church parishioners, World Piano Competition participants, Horticultural Society members or others in need of a place to celebrate, feel loved and be at home.

Jean’s legacy will continue through her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Daughter Karen has a daughter Stephanie Muecke, who with husband Nathan has Jean’s granddaughters Peyton and Lauren; son Andy Schrock and wife Brittany have sons Ryden, Syris, and Kaymen. Daughter Mary has daughter Grace and Jean’s son Bill is uncle to all. Son David has six of Jean’s grandchildren. They include daughter Joy, sons Justin and David, and daughter Holly McAlister, who with husband Scott, has son Milo and daughter Remi. Daughter Natalie is raising her daughter, Hayley, with husband Chris; son Paul is the youngest of Dave’s six children. Jean’s youngest daughter, Meg Robinson and husband Jay have one son, John.

She loved nature, feeding, watching birds, doing word puzzles, and helping cultivate extraordinary gardens at her Signal Hill home. At one point, Jean and her household had more than 100 pets: cats of course, along with dogs, birds (crow, quail, parakeet, parrots, and ducks), bugs, chipmunks, fish, frogs and toads, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, hermit crabs, lizards, mice, possums, rabbits, raccoons, rats, salamanders, snakes, squirrels, turtles and many more.

As a result of her personal faith, Jean began the discipline of reading the Bible, a chapter from each Testament daily, starting with Genesis and Matthew. If a chapter were particularly long, she’d just read a half, but over the years she read the Old Testament at least six times and the New Testament 25 times! Her life displayed her faith and relationship with God daily and she was an inspiration to all those around her.

To summarize Jean’s impact on those around her, daughter-in-law Carol states that Jean “opened her heart and her home to me and countless others---showing kindness, patience, and love without measure. She was a woman of genuine faith with a deep inner strength, and a sweet gentle smile.”

The epitome of a selfless mother, Jean’s love and devotion to family---both biological and “adopted” --- will be felt for generations to come through the memories, creations and talents she passed down. We are comforted knowing that she is at rest with her Savior and is once again dancing in Jerry’s arms, a very common occurrence in life, and now one that will go on for eternity.

A memorial service to celebrate Jean’s life is scheduled for Saturday, July 23 at 2 pm at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Anderson Township. Donations to the Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue organization (a personal favorite of Jean) are in lieu of flowers.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jean K. Eichert, please visit our flower store.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

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