Kenneth Bert Eichenberger, 85, died peacefully surrounded by family on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, at his home in Billings, following a yearlong battle with Peritoneal Mesothelioma cancer.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Barbara (Bennett) Eichenberger; his son, Bob Eichenberger and wife Bonnie (Zuck) Eichenberger, and their children Abby and Charlie; his daughter, Carrie York and husband William York, and their children Bill and Peter; his daughter, Robin Nelson and husband Arne Nelson, and their children Catey and Courtney; his brother-in-law, Garry Bennett and wife Sonja; his sister-in-law, Florrie Bennett; his cousins, Lucille Bouton and Beverly Konicek; and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Dick and brother-in-law Bill Bennett.
Born and raised in Elmhurst, Illinois, in what he called “the best of times” to Lucille and Clarence Eichenberger, Ken was a charmer from birth. At 10, he and his buddy snuck out of the house, took the train into the city, and then caught the L to Wrigley Field (the Cubs lost). Upon Ken’s return, his unsuspecting mother asked, “Did you have a nice day, Kenny?” and the next morning his teacher said she sure hoped he was feeling better.
Following a two-year service with the military, Ken returned to the University of Arizona, where he saw Barbara at the library for the first time. He asked his buddies, “Who is that beautiful girl?” They were married a year later. Ken graduated from Arizona with a degree in Finance. He completed his final dissertation on Inland Steel Corporation, then walked into their Chicago HQ’s asking for an interview and walked out with a decade-long career with Inland spanning Chicago, New York City, and Dayton, Ohio.
Ken had a fabulous wit and always put family first. He moved the family to Billings in 1969, bought Northwestern Auto Supply Company with his brother-in-law Garry and ran the business for 20 years. After a year of failed retirement, Ken and Barb opened a travel agency and traveled the country. He loved fishing on the East Rosebud at the family cabin in Roscoe, skiing with family at their condo in Park City, Utah, golfing at Laurel Golf Course, and serving as an active member of First Presbyterian Church. He loved being the Patriarch of our family and adored his grandchildren. Whether it was teaching them to jitterbug or golf, or surprising every grandchild with silver dollars on their birthdays, he found time to get to know each one. At our last Christmas together at the beach, he went around the dinner table telling each grandchild what he felt their special and unique gift was to him. His love and devotion have grounded and shaped our family and will remain with us forever. Everyone who knew Ken said that he made them feel special.
The family wishes to thank everyone who has offered prayers and sent love and cards our way. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Friendship House and First Presbyterian Church.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at First Presbyterian Church, 2420 13th St. West.