PLANTING A SEED FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Irving Eckhardt passed away in October 2014, however his and his family’s legacy in New Haven will continue for future generations. Irving left most of his estate to charity, which included a bequest for Westville Synagogue as well as a large endowment for the Jewish Foundation. Irving was a businessman, a drummer, and loved to “go dancing with the ladies.” He was the son of Nathan and Ida Eckhardt who founded the Eckhardt Furniture store in Seymour. He is survived by his nephews Harvey and Neal and great nieces and nephews Carly, Jamie, Samantha and Jeffrey.
Back in 1920 when Nathan and Ida Eckhardt opened the Eckhardt Furniture Store, there were few Jewish families in the Valley. For the High Holidays, the Eckhardts and the few other local Jewish families would hold services in a nearby German Hall. Until it was sold in 2005, the Eckhardt Furniture store was family owned and operated and an institution in Seymour for 85 years.
After both emigrating from Russia, Nathan and Ida worked hard to raise four children – Edward, Ethel, Samuel and Irving. Irving remembered his parents as hard-working Jewish immigrants who were charitable even when they could not afford to be. The Eckhardts’ commitment and generosity to the Jewish community continued when, in 1999, Nathan and Ida’s only daughter, Ethel, established a fund at the Jewish Foundation. Following Ethel’s death in 2006, Irving established a fund and named it in memory of Nathan and Ida because “it felt right.” Following his aunt and uncle, Samuel’s oldest son, Harvey, also established a fund, which he named in memory of his parents, Ann and Samuel. Harvey said he established the fund because it was “the right thing to do to honor those who came before and sacrificed for us ” and he wanted his children, Carly and Jaimie, to remember “their family, my family.” Harvey hopes that his charitable giving will “plant a seed” for his children the way his parents and their parents did for him.
This new fund established through Irving’s estate will also be in Nathan and Ida’s memory. Per Mr. Eckhardt’s instructions, it is designated to make annual distributions to the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven (also known as a PACE fund).
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