Thomas Eckel 1925-2006
Thomas "Tommy" Eckel Passes Away
Tom Eckel was
born into a fishing family on the north shore of Lake Superior and Isle Royale,
and fished commercially his entire life. Tommy was also (my dad) George G.
Barnum, III best friend on Isle Royale. They were both born in 1925. Tommy’s
parents were Thomas J. and Bertha (Sivertson) Eckel. Tommy grew up spending his
summers on Isle Royale. Each summer, the commercial fishing kids, including
Tommy, looked forward to the arrival of the cottagers like my dad. The kids
formed an Isle Royale “rat pack” in Washington Harbor.
Tommy and my
dad enjoyed playing with and playing tricks on the other kids in the harbor.
Tommy told me that he and my dad explored every nook and cranny in the harbor
via rowboat. They became accomplished rowers in the two man wooden rowboats that
are still in service on Barnum Island. Tommy related a story to me about the
time he and my dad were out rowing when he snapped one of the oars. Naturally,
neither boy wanted to tell my stern grandfather (George G. Barnum II). They were
both surprised at how well he took it. He went and found the boys another oar
and they were on their way. A little while later Tommy snapped another oar. At
that point he told my dad to take him home because he wasn’t about to face my
grandfather with another broken oar.
It always felt special to
talk with Tommy and hear many of his stories about life on Isle Royale. Of
course I was especially interested in the stories about my dad, grandfather and
great-grandfather Tommy lived a rich and colorful life. We are all proud to be
part of his Isle Royale heritage. At our
meeting this winter we will honor Tommy by featuring some old videos of him at
the island and a recent interview of Tommy on Isle Royale.
Tommy and George on Isle Royale