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Walter Eckelmann

Walter Robert Eckelmann was raised in Ridgefield Park, NJ with two brothers. Walt was involved in high school basketball and track, while serving as staff and concertmaster at Camp of the Woods retreat in the Adirondacks during his summers. He took private violin lessons from later Wheaton conservatory Prof. John Maltese (1953-64). Eckelmann graduated Wheaton College in 1951 as a Chemistry major and served as president of the Chemistry Club his senior year. During this time he married zoology major Barbara Jean Burda '51 of Chicago. He worked in the Lamont Geological Laboratories (today Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) at Columbia (NY) University while earning his doctorate. Barbara also earned her advanced degree and worked in the lab. Together they had three children: Robert, Carol, and Bryan.
During the 1950s Walter joined the American Scientific Affiliation, the organization of Christian professionals in science.  His study of geology and strata led him into a 30-year career in the petroleum industry. He received coverage in the New York Times, Science, TIME and Newsweek in 1957-58 for his studies funded by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that revealed cancer-causing radioactive strontium-90 rising globally in humans through the food chain from H-bomb test fallout. Walt was hired by the Jersey Production Research Co. to launch in Tulsa, OK the first lab for oil exploration. Years later his family transferred to Bordeaux, France where he founded and directed a multi-national laboratory supporting Essso's drilling in the Bay of Biscay. While a senior vice president in the 1980s for Sohio Petroleum Corp, Eckelmann was a presidential appointee under Reagan to an interagency task force researching the effects of acid rain. In semi-retirement he continued as president of his own consulting RCB Company out of Roanoke, TX advising on oil prices and trends.

Eckelmann was a dedicated Bible student, teacher and elder in Presbyterian USA churches and Evangelical Free congregations in all three communities where he and his family lived during part of each year: Rockport, TX, Rockford, IL and Eagle River, WI. During his years in France Eckelmann became acquainted with Jacques Ellul and participated in his house church. Eckelmann died September 28, 2008 at age 79.