Norman Charles Eckert, 94, of Camden, Arkansas, beloved and devoted father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and dear friend to many passed away Monday, April 13, 2015 in Morrisville, NC where he had recently moved to be closer to family. Norm, as he was affectionately known, was born on September 6, 1920 to Joseph and Mildred Cecelia Eckert in New York City. Upon graduating from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU in 1943 with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, he served honorably in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the newly formed Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). The UDT were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II to reconnoiter and destroy enemy defensive obstacles on beaches prior to amphibious landings. Prior to shipping overseas, Norman was seriously injured when a truck hit him on the base at Camp Pendleton, California, breaking both legs. While he was recuperating in the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, he met the love of his life, Jane Elizabeth Neiswanger. They married on January 9, 1947 in Oceanside, CA and shared 33 years of marriage, until her untimely death from breast cancer in 1980. Norman returned to the Polytechnic Institute of NYU after the war and earned a Master of Chemical Engineering in 1949.
Norman commenced a career in chemical engineering with a stint at Shell Oil in Oklahoma, then to the Naval Ordnance Testing Station (NOTS) at China Lake, CA during the Korean War. He was hired away from NOTS by Atlantic Research Corporation (ARC) in the early 1950s to help found US Flare Corporation which specialized in squibs, igniters, and fuses for military ordnance. US Flare, located in Saugus/Newhall, CA was acquired by Tracor in 1974, and subsequently relocated to Camden, AR where Norman retired in 1989 after a distinguished 41 year career. He was a pioneer in the development of squibs and igniters which are used today in automobile airbags, as well as numerous military ordnance and flares. He was affectionately known as Norm ‘Squibman’ Eckert, and was well known for his mentoring of many younger chemical engineers throughout his career.
Norm and Jane raised their four children in Granada Hills, CA. His love of life, intellectual curiosity and delightful sense of humor will be missed by all those who knew him. In retirement, he continued to travel the world, something he had begun while working for Tracor, visiting the Holy Land, Europe, and Asia. He was an active member of the Camden Country Club playing his last round of golf at 90 years of age. Norman will be remembered for his energy, joy and the kindness and compassion he had for everyone. His legacy is a treasury of family, friends, and colleagues who will love and cherish his memory and the heart prints he left in their lives.
In addition to his parents and wife, Norman was preceded in death by his brother, Kenneth Eckert. Left to cherish his memory are his children, Cecelia J. Eckert and husband John E. Kennedy, Jr., of Morrisville, NC, Thomas E. Eckert and wife Karen G. Eckert of N. Augusta, SC, Andrew N. Eckert and wife Luanne Eckert of Orange Park, FL, Margaret E. Pryor and husband James Pryor of Camden, AR, grandchildren, Kristen J. Geiger and husband Joseph E. Geiger, Spencer T. Eckert, Jeffrey T. Eckert, Timothy A. Eckert, Miles J. Eckert, great-grandchildren Jack and Caroline Geiger, his brother Robert J. Eckert, sisters-in-law Julie B. Eckert and Nancy J. Meadows and many other family and friends.
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A celebration of his life will be held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, 2220 High House Road, Cary, North Carolina at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 6, 2015.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Norman’s name be made to Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Cary NC. Norman Charles Eckert, a life well lived.