Mary Eckman, Obituary


Mary Alice Eckman (née Ryan) passed away peacefully on Monday, November 27th, 2023. She was born to the late Robert and Irene Ryan on January 20, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Mount St. Mary Academy in St. Charles, Illinois, and graduated from Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois.

On January 11, 1958, she married Thomas Roy Eckman and spent the next 63 years experiencing a lifetime of love and friendship. For a number of years she worked in a small family electrical contracting business in Chicago. After raising her three children, she and Tom retired to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She spent the next three decades serving the Chapel Hill and surrounding communities in various ways through involvement in the Chapel Hill Service League, Community Shelter, Chapel Hill/Carrboro Meals On Wheels, St. Thomas More Church, Community Cuisine, and other charitable entities. Her tireless work and dedication to these causes earned her the North Carolina “Governor’s Award” on two occasions.

She was a selfless, compassionate, nurturing and witty human being who never met a stranger. She had an enthusiasm for building relationships and making a difference in the lives of others – whether it be listening, giving advice or helping in time of need. She had many roles in her long life: daughter, sister, wife, sister-in-law, mother, aunt, grandmother, and friend.

She is preceded in death by her brother, Robert Ryan, Jr., and her husband, Thomas Roy Eckman.

She is survived by her son, Peter Eckman of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; two daughters, Mary Elise Eckman of Chicago, Illinois and Mary Elizabeth Knelson of Durham, North Carolina, grandson, Ryan Michael Dulude; brother, Donald Ryan; sister, Patricia Crane; many nieces and nephews, and countless friends.

Visitation will be at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home in Durham, NC on Thursday, November 30, 2023 from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be at St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill, NC on Friday, December 1, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. with Burial immediately following at Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can be made to Chapel Hill/Carrboro Meals On Wheels (PO Box 2102, Chapel Hill, NC 27515) or Share–Advocate (Good Samaritan Hospital, 3815 Highland Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60515. Attn: Jessica Kincaid).

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