Pat Owen Eckels
Pat was born in Dallas, Texas, to Katie McGee Eckels and Parl Otto Eckels. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and then attended the University of Texas in Austin, but after the Pearl Harbor attack he left school to join the U.S. Army Air Corp/later U.S. Air Force. His flight training was in Texas and elsewhere, after which he was a pilot attaining the rank of Captain. He also served during the Korean War and continued in the Air Force Reserves until 1957.
A favorite story Pat shared with his sons was that while flying Bob Hope and his group to entertain troops at a distant outpost one of the plane’s engines conked out, but Bob Hope, in the co-pilot’s seat, was cool as a cucumber as Pat turned the plane around, landed for a quick repair, then took off arriving only an hour late.
While serving in Europe, Pat met the love of his life Betty Ann Alley of Augusta, Kansas, who was working in the war reconstruction office of General Clark. They married in Austria on September 11, 1946, honeymooned on the famous Orient Express, then returned to the U.S. on ocean liner USS Henry Gibbons.
Pat and Betty settled in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, and had two sons Jack P. Eckels (1948) and Robert O. Eckels (1954). They were among the founders of Southwood Methodist Church in Oak Cliff, where Pat taught bible study and Betty was Church secretary for many years. Pat had jobs with Braniff Airlines and a railroad, and then began his business career with Hanover Insurance Company in Dallas, from which he retired as Manager of the Claims Department in 1984. Betty’s career was with different Dresser Industries companies in Dallas, from which she also retired as Secretary for the President of the Mining Division.
After retirement, Pat and Betty moved to nearby Desoto, Texas.
Betty died in 1988. The next year Pat married Francis (Fran) Madden. Over their marriage they traveled frequently, played a lot of bridge, and had a wonderful time together. Fran died in 2003. Pat remained in the Oak Cliff area until 2012, when he gave up his car and moved to Holly Hall Christian Retirement Community in Houston, Texas.
Pat was predeceased by his parents and half-sister Mildred Baker, wife Betty, second wife Fran and her daughter Sheila, Betty’s mother and father Pat and Sylvia Alley, her sisters Letty Jackson and her husband Albert and Mary Knebler and her husband Tubby and their son Billy Knebler.
Pat was survived by his sons Jack (and daughter-in-law Diane) of Houston, Texas, and Robert (and daughter-in-law Robin) of Granbury, Texas, Betty’s niece Jane Ellen Knebler Heise (and her husband and sons) of Augusta, Kansas, Billy Knebler’s wife Vicki and their children of Augusta, Kansas, Fran’s son Fred (and his wife) of Cleburne, Texas, and their daughter, Fran’s daughter Mary, many dear friends from the Dallas area and who he met at Holly Hall. He was also survived by many descendants of his mother’s 8 siblings.
Pat's family is very grateful to the staff of Holly Hall, where he resided during 2012 - 2017, and especially grateful for the devotion of Cheryl Cummings and Monique McWilliams of Velma Moss' firm Ambassadors of We Care, Pat’s wonderful caregivers for his last two years.
Pat willed his body to UT McGovern Medical School in Houston. His cremated remains will be interred and a graveside service held at the National Veterans cemetery in Grand Prairie, Texas, at a later date.