Newport- Theodore Howland Eckhart, 99, died Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 at the Newport Hospital. He was the son of the late Joseph and Margaret Eckhart and brother of the late Frank J. Eckhart of Newport. He is the husband of the late Shirley Josephine Sikonski and is survived by his six children: Lawrence Newsome, Kathleen Cotta, Jan Eckhart, Theodore L. Eckhart, Paul Eckhart, Janelle Martin, several grand and great grandchildren, and his faithful dog Bell.
In his early years, he moved to California and was a tuna fisherman along the Pacific coast from California to Central and South America. During WW II he worked as a shipping coordinator at the Long Beach Naval Ship Yard at Terminal Island. He met his wife Shirley after she had been evacuated from Pearl Harbor to Long Beach. After the war he moved back to Newport where he raised his family and started a plant propagating nursery in Newport and Portsmouth. He also owned several restaurants in the Broadway-Washington Square area. He was a history buff and compiled correspondence from the American Revolutionary war between General Washington and General Lafayette. After “retiring” he remained active working with his sons Jan and Ted, and daughter-in-law Michelle, at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown.
Besides the Red Sox and Patriots, his passion was horticulture. He recently traveled to the Pacific Northwest and to Europe meeting with conifer growers, exchanging plants, and developing new varieties of Christmas trees.
He was a great father, and teacher, had a witty sense of humor, was generous and always had a good word to say. Being an eternal optimist, at age 99, only a few weeks before his death, he planted seeds of Christmas trees - trees whose shade he would never lie under , trees whose lights he would never see- but as he would always say, “the joy is in the journey”.
Visiting hours will be held, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St., Newport, from 4-7pm. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Potter League for Animals, P.O. Box 412, Newport, RI 02840 or to the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, 790 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown, RI 02842.