He was the man who showed up on Christmas wearing a Spiderman costume and webbing family with silly string. The guy who put his daughter, nieces and nephews on his shoulders and jumped into the swimming pool. Over and over and over. The one who showed up to his Goddaughter's wedding in a tuxedo T-shirt. Skip Eckert was also arguably the world's best safecracker, who once saved the life of a child locked in a bank vault. Above all, though, he was a devoted husband who worshipped his wife, Connie, and a doting father who taught his precious Riley to scuba dive and took her across the globe to do it.
Eckert, 62, of Medina, passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. But the loving husband, gentle father, compassionate son, hilarious brother, crazy uncle, generous friend and clever genius most certainly lives on. He is, after all, our best party story, our favorite jokester, our tallest yet truest tale. Skip was the president of his class at Manchester High School (class of '69), who he represented at the state championship wrestling tournament (he also legendarily cut off his own leg cast; he had things to do, after all, and wasn't about to let that stop him.) He graduated from Baldwin Wallace in 1973 and quickly turned his locksmithing interest into a career. Skip was a Master Safe Cracker who traveled the world, from South Korea to Saudi Arabia, to open safes and vaults. He was honored in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest safecracker. He appeared on David Letterman to showcase his prowess. He worked for the FBI, Scotland Yard and Quantico, among others. And when a child was locked in a bank vault in Pennsylvania, it was Skip who police escorted across state lines to save a life, making national news. He was a longtime president of the Safe and Vault Technicians Association, and is in the group's hall of fame. This year, he was given the Philadelphia Award--the locksmith industry's most prestigious honor (he may or may not have also used his locksmithing skills to occasionally break into other family members' rooms on family vacations and booby trap doors).
He was also a pilot, an accomplished scuba diver, a guitarist, a member of the Medina Police Specials Unit, a mason at Akron-Coventry Masonic Lodge 83, and a gymnastics coach who trained Olympic-caliber athletes. And what was that--you needed something? Skip had your back, no favor too big, no questions asked.
He is being ushered into his next life by his mother, Joanne, and leaves behind his father, Walter; wife, Connie; daughter, Riley Joanne; son, Tyler; sister, Anne (Gary) Cole; brother, Don (Diane); brother, Bobby (Kim); and several nieces, nephews, family and friends.
Whether you knew Skip or not, we're certain he would prefer that you honor him not with flowers or tears, but by watching a Monty Python movie, listening to The Beatles, rigging your brother's toilet seat or building a fort in the living room for your kid (and if you're coming to memorialize him, he'd be pleased to see you in flannel shirt and jeans, thank you).
Skip's mother always said, "Leave wherever you are a better place than you found it."
And to that end, Skip cracked the ultimate code: life.
A Memorial Service will be held for Skip on Saturday, October 26 at 11 a.m. at the Tadmor Shrine, 3000 Krebs Dr., Akron, OH 44319. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a
in Skip's name. Online condolences may be left at www.waitefuneralhome.com
Published in Akron Beacon Journal from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, 2013