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Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Starts at 2:00pm (Eastern time)
Harriet Ellen Eiche, 92, of Frankfort, passed away on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Wesley Manor in Frankfort. She was born on June 26, 1931, in Kansas City, MO to James Leroy and Mildred Ione Goodspeed Skalitzky. She married Carl Eiche in Kansas City on September 20, 1953; he survives. They celebrated 69 years of marriage.
Harriet retired in 1993 after 24 years with United Way of Clinton County. She attended the First Christian Church in Frankfort where she sang in the choir for many years.
She is survived by her husband, Carl; son, Jay Eiche (wife, Tanya Harvey) of Arlington, VA; and a daughter, Lisa Eiche (husband, Jack Rusinoff).
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Jim and Tom Skalitzky, and her sisters, Betty Nichols and Margaret McDonald.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, in the
Amanda Reid Memorial Chapel at Wesley Manor. Chaplain Deborah Musick will officiate. Memorials may be made to the Frankfort Public Library or United Way of Clinton County. All were important in Harriet’s life.
~ Eulogy for Harriet's service ~
read by her daughter Lisa
I am here to share some of my memories with you regarding my mom, including some of the things I appreciate most about her. These are some of impressions that evoke memories of Mom for me: the color soft green, apricots and walnuts, musical theatre and movies, the fragrance of pink peonies and a lovely smile.
Harriet Ellen Skalitzky was born in 1931 in Kansas City, the youngest of 5 children of Mildred and James Skalitzky. Following high school, she met Carl Eiche, my father, at a dance. It was a city girl/county boy relationship, as he was raised on a farm. They dated a while and when he contracted polio and had to go to a V.A. hospital near Leavenworth, Kansas, she took a bus to go visit him there. Her parents were apprehensive about the risk, but she went anyway and put on all the special protective garb that was required to see him in quarantine. Imagine the courage that took, at a time when no one knew how it was transmitted. Dad said that was when he knew he was going to ask her to marry him. When he did propose in 1953, she told him she didn’t want an engagement ring as she already had a diamond ring from her namesake Aunt Harriet. She gave Dad permission to spend the ring money he’d saved instead on a hunting gun and went with him to make the purchase!
They lived for the first 6 years in Topeka, Kansas and both my brother Jay and I were born there. When Dad was offered a job at the Indiana Prairie Farmer, he went ahead to Indiana to find a home. She moved with an infant and a toddler across the country to a house she had never seen, in a new community where she didn’t know a soul. Again, imagine the courage that took.
Mom quickly began putting down roots here in Frankfort through community engagement. An extrovert, she made friends easily. She became a member of the First Christian Church and sang in the choir for decades. She got to know her neighbors, joined a number of bridge clubs, the garden club and the PTA. She was at every one of our school activities and athletic events. She formed friendships that lasted a lifetime, that I know meant a great deal to her.
She volunteered as a girl scout leader, library board member, literacy tutor, school art teacher and master gardner. She worked for decades as an administrator for the local United Way. Community involvement and giving back were always major values for her.
My mom was pragmatic. She believed in meeting people where they are, doing what she could and living within her means. She did not expect that she would agree with everyone she met and that was okay. She valued agreeing to disagree while remaining civil and respectful and looking for ways to bridge differences. She believed in moderation and focusing on the positives. Because she voiced her own opinions, was knowledgeable about finances and had her own activities and friends, I learned it was okay to be strong and intelligent.
Every family has someone who falls into the role of connector and Harriet was the connector for our family. She fostered a sense of family connection through the annual trips we made to visit with her and my dad’s family every year, regular letters and cards and phone calls. She kept us informed about what was going on with our relatives and told them about us, and she continued this her entire life. When her own father passed away and her mother needed more support, it was Harriet who took on the responsibility and honor of moving her mom to Frankfort to care for her in her final years. It is a lovely and fitting tribute to her that so many extended family have come such a distance to pay their final respects to her here today.
My mom demonstrated resilience over her entire life. Growing up, she lived through the Great Depression and WWII. She had so many joint replacements due to severe arthritis that we all joked she was “the bionic woman.” In 2002 she was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and was told she likely had less than a year remaining. She joined a treatment trial, and was the only patient from her group who survived. She was declared cancer free and lived another 21 years. She enjoyed her life, going to Texas every winter with Dad for 18 years as well as trips both earlier and later. She found joy in small things, like bird watching, gardening and making her memorable cinnamon rolls each Christmas.
When the cascade of health problems began that ultimately led to her passing, she endured each step in the decline with as much grace, dignity and positivity as she could. She was extremely fortunate to have my dad with her, loving and supporting her along the way. She gave us the gift of telling us earlier what her wishes were, (so we didn’t have to guess) and she let us know when she was ready to go. I am grateful beyond words that I was able to be with her, hold her hand and tell her that I loved her near the end. I choose to believe that she sensed I was there and heard me.
Harriet was a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother and aunt. She was also a close friend and neighbor. She lived a full, meaningful life of 92 years. We all loved her deeply and know that she loved us back. We will all miss her greatly and carry her memory with us.