1951 - 2020
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Gary Eckles

Gary Eckles, 69, passed away on August 21, 2020 at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gary was born on August 17, 1951 in Canton, Ohio. The oldest of three boys, he excelled in both academic and athletic endeavors throughout childhood. Following a passion for logic and debate, Gary obtained a B.A. from Bowling Green State University (1973) and a M.A. from University of Massachusetts (1976) in Communication Theory. A gifted orator, he won numerous national debate awards throughout his collegiate career. Gary's great joy came from mentoring and educating students from all backgrounds. With specialties in rhetoric, debate, and communication theory, he was a professor/instructor for over 40 years at Thomas Nelson Community College, College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, and West Virginia Wesleyan College. A most dependable and loving person, Gary was a true friend and father figure to many. A lifelong fan of Cleveland sports, puns, and ethnic cuisine, Gary developed myriad personal and professional friendships throughout his life. An avid lover and supporter of the arts, he attended innumerable musical and theatrical events. Gary always put family first. He was an incredible father, a fierce and loyal friend, and the best grandfather. In retirement, he found his true calling as "Poppa" for his grandchildren and a host of others.

He is survived by his four children and seven grandchildren: son Brinton, his wife Megan, and their children Fern, Theodore, and Magnolia, of Nellysford, Virginia; daughter Ashley, her husband Chris, and their children Stella, Arya, and Emelia, of Waynesboro, Virginia; son Evan and his partner Gabriela, of Seattle, Washington; daughter Meredith, her husband Calvin, and their daughter Charlie, of Richmond, Virginia; and countless friends.

In lieu of flowers, we humbly ask donations be made in Gary's honor to any of the following organizations: VHSL at, Chesapeake Bay Foundation at, or St. Jude at Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a large service is not feasible, so the family will make a memorial book for Gary. Please send your contributions of stories, pictures, jokes, recipes, and all things Gary/Professor Eckles, as well as your address for distribution, to by the end of September.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Repository on Sep. 3, 2020.
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November 11, 2020
To me it was Professor Eckles. I never did get used to calling him Gary, even though he insisted and I eventually relented. He had convinced me to enroll in the College of William and Mary. I had stumbled into one of his classes at TNCC and ended up chatting with him after a class. Two hours later, among many musings about anarchism, Thomas Jefferson, the proper way to prepare osso buco, "secular taoism" (something, I think, completely unique to him at the time), and more than a few rants about the inherent evilness of administrators, and I was charmed. It was his range and the seriousness of his mind that grabbed me. It was his generosity that allowed me to notice those things. By the end of the year, I had enrolled in William and Mary at his suggestion and I was eager to get started working with him. Unfortunately, due to his accident, he left before that semester began. But we stayed in touch and I spoke with him on the phone every six months or so and I even got to see him a few times in Charlottesville when I would pass through. He was perhaps the only person in my life I could earnestly describe as a disciple of truth. Professor Eckles-- Gary-- you will be missed!
Daniel Thomas Mollenkamp
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