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George Thomas "Eckie" Eckert, 59, of Tamaqua, formerly of Pottsville, died unexpectedly Monday in Tamaqua.
Born in Pottsville, he was a son of the late George "Sparky" and Regina "Dolly" Feeney Eckert.
A Pottsville High School graduate and member of the PHS football team, Eck owned and operated Roma Pizza, Tamaqua, from the early 1970s through the late 1980s. The Roma was more than a pizza shop for many, it was their home during their childhood and teenage years. Eck helped many of the youth throughout the Coal Regions regardless of their lot in life.
After closing the pizza shop, he went to work as a security guard at the Warnersville Home, then took a position in the kitchen at Mahanoy City Correctional Institution until his recent retirement. He was affectionately known by the inmates as "Big Poppa".
Eck was an avid supporter of all regional sports from youth through high school. He cheered for every color uniform.
Eck held season tickets to Penn State football and the Philadelphia Eagles for many years and supplied half of Schuylkill County with their first ever experience of seeing a big time sporting event.
Although his parents had preceded him in death, and his immediate family had passed on, he was a father, uncle or brother to many he called friend. He was also preceded in death by a brother, Robert Eckert.
With his friend, "Big Joe," he was a deejay with the moniker given to him at his job, "Big Poppa."
He is also survived by an aunt and cousins, as well as each and every heart he touched.
Arrangements are being handled by E. Franklin Griffiths Funeral Home Inc., 655 East Broad St., Tamaqua. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home. Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 a.m. until the time of services Thursday. Interment will be in Schuylkill Memorial Park, Schuylkill Haven. Memorials in his name may be made to Tamaqua High School, Athletic Dept., Stadium Hill, Tamaqua, PA 18252, or Tamaqua Area Little League Assoc., 986 Catawissa Road, Tamaqua, PA 18252. Online registry and condolences may be signed at www.griffithsfuneralhomes.com.
Published in Republican & Herald on February 13, 2013