Renowned Brevard Businessman Ralph Howard Eckler Passes Away April 23
By Space Coast Daily // April 28, 2016
celebration of life will take place April 28
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Renowned Brevard businessman Ralph Eckler passed away peacefully last Saturday, in the presence of his loving family. He was 74 years old.
Eckler was born in Rock Island, Illinois to the loving parents of Leslie and Velma Eckler.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe how amazing our Daddy was to us,” said daughters Cori and Nicole.
“He was the most generous, kind, fun and loving father. There was never anyone that we met that didn’t have the best memories with him. He will be deeply missed by everyone that knew him.”
Ralph had a love for Corvettes and turned his passion of fabricating Corvette parts and accessories into the successful and world-known Eckler Industries in Titusville. He was later inducted into the Bloomington Gold Corvette Hall of Fame.
Eckler started the company by accident in his father’s gas station in Moline, IL in the early 1960s, as noted in a story by R.J. Schmeider on chevyclassicsclub.com:
He purchased a Corvette that had been involved in a crash and needed repairs to the front end. Ralph decided to make this a one-piece front end rather than bond many smaller pieces like GM did in the factory. Well, one thing lead to another. Someone else needed a front end, so Ralph made him one. That continued until Ralph was fully involved in making fiberglass parts for Corvettes.
Back then, customs were big and designers like George Barris were building highly modified cars. Ralph decided to make spoilers, custom headlights, wheel flares and many other Corvette parts. This continued until the Mississippi decided to overflow its banks and flood everything Ralph had worked for, including several Corvettes. That was all Ralph could handle, so he headed south to Florida. Being a person who liked boats, the Sunshine State fit the bill. Settling in Titusville worked perfectly, since it was warm in the winter and near the water for boating.
In Florida, Eckler’s business grew quickly and fiberglass was selling like hot cakes. One day Ralph decided to start an accessories and replacement parts business to go right along with the fiberglass sales. In 1977, it all started for me as well. I came aboard and put together the accessories business in just a corner of the building, and it all took off. Sales of moonroof tops, floor mats, replacement emblems, T-shirts and luggage racks began a business that today has 17 websites and many more annual parts catalogs.
Ralph was also extremely passionate about fishing.
One of his most notable moments was winning the Bahamas Billfish Championship in Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas, by landing the 1,030 pound Blue Marlin, which held the record for many years.
He also loved to “crank it up” for NASCAR on Sundays.
Ralph was the most generous and loving father, grandfather, brother and friend. He will live forever in our hearts.
He is survived by his son Steven Howard Eckler of Merritt Island, FL; his three daughters Susan (Stevens Eckler-Faulconer of Titusville, FL; Nicole Eckler of Las Vegas, NV; and Corinne “Cori-yVette” Eckler of New York, NY; his three granddaughters, Ashley (Kyle) Eckler Wilms of Orlando, FL; Megan Eckler of Orlando, FL; and Cassidey Faulconer of Titusville, FL; his brother, Robert (Sherry) Eckler of Titusville, FL; and his very dear friends Ron and Michele Mohr.
A celebration of life will take place at Sunset Cafe, located at 500 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway in Cocoa Beach on Thursday, April 28 from 2 to 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donors donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at wish.org