Lucille Rose Ginsberg Eckels passed away May 26, 2020. She was born in 1929 in Cicero, Illinois. Her parents immigrated to the United States to escape Hitler’s rise to power.
As a child, Lu was a talented ballet dancer, did acrobatics, and practiced elocution. Her sister’s often refer to her as little Shirley Temple. She was a member of
B Nai’Jehoshua Reform Temple, Chicago IL. In high school she played the flute, enjoyed Drama, played softball, was editor of the school newspaper, and earned high academic honors and scholarships. She was salutatorian of her class of 700 students.
She went to Roosevelt college and studied journalism and political science. Lu found a multi-racial community for the first time. She loved this diverse environment.
She went on to study at the University of Illinois, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship. This is where she met the love of her life, Bob Eckels. When a sorority brother refused to take Lucille to a dance because she was Jewish, Bob stepped in and asked her to go dancing at J’s Ranch. They fell in love on a blind date and were married 6 months later. No Rabi or Baptist minister would marry them as a mixed religious couple but they found a Unitarian minister who was willing to marry them. Together they lived a Judeo-Christian life and lived a life of peace and love toward their fellow human beings. Lu was truly an instrument of God bringing love, generosity, and joy to all. This was reflected in the poetry she wrote. She always had a birthday poem for her friends and family, but her true passion was to reflect humor, the beautiful environment around her and instill social justice through her writings.
After graduation Lu and Bob went to study in London, England. Lu studied political science at the London School of Economics and Bob got a scholarship at the Central London School for Arts and Crafts. It was during this time that Bob and Lu met Bernard Leach, England’s premier Potter. His influence changed the direction of their lives. They spent the summer bicycling through Europe. They went to museums to see the master pieces by the great painters of Europe. Lu wrote poetry about the people, and landscapes, and loved their bohemian life style. This was one of her favorite times of her life.
Lu and Bob moved to Ashland Wisconsin in 1960. She helped start a nursery school, and was a founding member of the League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties, She was president from 1961 to 1963.
She was also raising her 3 toddlers. Deanna (Chessa, Riley Mitchell), Jeff (Ella and Bobbi) and Steve (Tyler).
When the family moved to Danville Virginia in 1970 so Bob could teach at Stratford college, Lu went to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to study education. She received her master’s degree and became a reading specialist. She was hired at Stratford college to teach in their education department.
Lu’s family eventually moved back to Ashland Wisconsin. She was hired at Northland College to head the education department. She started a Human Relations program. She wanted to combat prejudice and discrimination in the classroom and in teaching materials. Her program was recognized by the state for her excellence in this area. Lu supervised student teachers in the surrounding schools. She was a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, the International Honorary Society for Women Teachers. She belonged to the Wisconsin Association of Educators. Lu served on the board for Wisconsin Public Radio from 2004-2007 and helped get WPR to the northland. She served 3 years on the State Superintendents Advisory Council for teacher education. She believed that teaching is one of the most important jobs. Teachers care about the people, the country and the planet. Her commitment to Northland college education department was unprecedented.
Lu helped her husband Bob start one of the first potteries in Wisconsin. She was involved in the everyday running of the gallery, and hosting Bob’s apprentices often bringing food and drink to the shop. She also offered young potters a place in their home to live while studying in Bayfield.
Lu’s three children and her grandchildren were very important to her. She supported there artistic careers with love and devotion. You would often see her at her son’s music performances as a proud parent of their talents. She was so proud that her daughter Dede continued the family pottery legacy and eventually took over the pottery shop.
Lu loved the Bayfield community and supported the arts, spirituality and education.
Lu’s family loved her laughter, her poetry, her wisdom and patience. She taught her children that all difficult things would pass and that they were never alone. She shared her lessons of love and kindness to all that she met.
You are all invited to a celebration of Lu’s life on Saturday June 27th at 3:00, Eckels Pottery, 85205 Hwy 13, Bayfield. It will be outdoors in the meadow at Eckels Pottery so please bring a lawn chair. Social distancing and sanitation guidelines will be followed. All donations will go to support Wisconsin Public Radio.