Pictured Longtime PFLAG activists Howard and Mildred Eychaner.
Howard Franklin Eychaner, father of Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist Fred Eychaner, died Nov. 1 at Oak Crest Retirement Center, according to the Chicago Tribune. The DeKalb, Ill., native was 89.
He was born on Aug. 22, 1916, in Sycamore, the son of Perry J. and Ethel B. ( Jordan ) Eychaner. He married Mildred Marie Lovett on Feb. 6, 1942, in Winnebago. ( Mildred passed away on May 11, 2005. ) He developed a local delivery service into a household goods moving and storage business, Blue Van & Storage Inc. and Apex Moving & Storage Co., in Rockford, both agents for Allied Van Lines, Inc. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in DeKalb since 1928 and founding president and a board member of the DeKalb Area Retirement Center, Oak Crest. In May, the Oak Crest Health Center was named for Howard and his wife Mildred.
Throughout his life, Eychaner was an advocate for justice. With Mildred, he co-founded the Northern Illinois chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG; they worked tirelessly for full acceptance and inclusion of gays and lesbians into society in general and the United Methodist Church in particular. In 1995, the Northern Illinois University group Prism ( then known as The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Coalition [ LGBC ] ) honored the couple for their contributions to the LGBT community at its 25th anniversary celebration. In April 1996, The Presidential Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity ( PCSOGI ) and LGBC established the Eychaner Award, named in honor of Milly and Howard, as an annual award recognizing positive contributions to the LGBT community.
According to the PCSOGI Web site, the Eychaners—parents of two gay sons—had been active since 1977. In 2002 they were honored with the first Pioneer Family Award from National P-FLAG.
Howard is survived by his children, Fred, James ( Barbara ) of Carmichael, Calif., Rich of Des Moines, Iowa and Barbara Richardson ( Tom ) of Oak Brook; four grandchildren, Anne of Stockton, Calif., Jay of Urbana, Tim Richardson and Alana Richardson of Oak Brook; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by Mildred; his parents; sister Doris Ringstrom and brother Donald.
Funeral services were held Nov. 5 at First United Methodist Church in DeKalb, with Pastor Jane Eesley officiating. Private burial services took place on the same day at Ohio Grove Cemetery in Sycamore. Memorials are being established for Howard Eychaner at Trans Vac, 1606 Bethany Road, Sycamore, Ill., 60178, and at Northern Illinois University Foundation, LGBT Resources Account, 1425 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, Ill., 60115. For further information please call ( 815 ) 756-1022.