Roger Eckstein, of Phoenix, Arizona, passed away on January 17, 2022 after a rich life of 91 years. Roger was born to Frank “Earl” and Regina (Hoefer) Eckstein on November 11, 1930 in Dubuque, Iowa. He was the youngest of three, having two sisters, Mary (Hantelman) and Ruth (Kane/Meyers). As a boy, he swam and canoed, went on adventures with his dog Skippy, and served as an altar boy. Roger worked various jobs as a teen and young adult—washing cars, building a school gymnasium, and unloading freight trains.
He spent two years studying at Loras College in Dubuque, where he thought of becoming a math teacher. But just before the Korean War broke out, he joined the Navy. As a sailor, he embarked on several journeys to Asia, where he enjoyed photographing life on-board and the temples, shrines, and street life of Japan. It was in the Navy that he began his education in electronics. In 1957, he graduated with honors and a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona to build a career working for Motorola. He was an engineer in the Antenna and Microwave Group of Motorola’s Western Center Military Electronics Division.
In his new hometown, Roger attended a dance hosted by the nursing school of St. Joseph’s Hospital. There he met Sherril Miller, who was in her senior year of training. This sparked a wonderful courtship of eighteen months, and the two were married in 1959. The couple raised their two daughters—Mary (Feiler) and Gretchen (Matis)—in Phoenix where the family attended St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
He developed an affinity for the desert Southwest and often hiked in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve with his daughters and family dog, Lucy. To beat the summer heat, the family frequented the city’s swimming pools. They spent vacations in San Diego, California and cabins along the creeks of northern Arizona. Roger was the family photographer, documenting their lives for nearly 50 years.
He and Sherril enjoyed traveling to visit their grown daughters, sons-in-law, and four grandchildren in Washington State and Utah. They also cruised to Alaska and drove along the Oregon coast. When their families came to visit in Phoenix, Roger filled the sandbox, pulled wagon loads of grandchildren around his backyard, sat on the floor building block towers, and read dozens of picture books. In retirement, he enjoyed reading detective novels and classic westerns and watching football and romantic comedies. He loved music, and he often played the radio or sang popular songs a cappella.
Roger was known for his dry humor and playfulness, which he inherited from his father. He was exceptionally patient. He offered his full presence to his children and grandchildren, free of expectation and judgment. He was beloved by many dogs who were drawn to his calm and gentle nature.
Roger lived independently up until his last year, when he moved into a group home managed by his devoted neighbor, Gaile Dixon.
He was preceded in death by his wife Sherril, who passed away on the same date as Roger, 11 years earlier. They were married 51 years. He is survived by his daughters, sons-in-law David Matis and Eric Feiler, grandsons Keaton and Levi Feiler, granddaughters Surekha and Samiksha Matis, and many nieces and nephews.