A personal reflection from EDHS Executive Director and Chief Historian, Ted Wachholz:
While attending the visitation for Marion Eichholz at the Hursen Funeral Home a week ago, we spent time being greeted by and visiting with Marion's family -- including her younger sister Shirley. Our conversations reminded us of how we first met Marion's family, and I wanted to share the story with you.
Back in 1999, a few of us were discussing ways to let others know that our not-for-profit existed. We had a website (we laugh now -- as it was just a single webpage) and we were looking for other means to spread our reach. Co-founder Susan Decker suggested that we place a couple of our newly-printed business cards in the Eastland Disaster books at our local library. This simple idea became a defining moment in our organization's now 16-year history.
Within a couple of weeks of deciding to try out the business card plan, Gary Kremholz checked out one of the books on the Eastland Disaster -- which included our business card. He was seeking to find out more information regarding his wife Kathy's connection to the tragedy -- her aunt Marion Eichholz was a living survivor.
Upon finding our business card, Gary (pictured below with wife Kathy and daughter Melissa) emailed us, beginning an ongoing exchange of information between Gary and EDHS. At that time EDHS was less than three months old, so being contacted by the family of a living survivor was significant.
Over the days that followed, Gary and I discovered several things about each other that we did not know we had in common. We first identified the obvious sharing of the German surname "holz" -- Wachholz, Kremholz, and Eichholz. Shortly thereafter we came to find out that we lived within walking distance of each other. The final "you've got to be kidding me!" moment soon followed: our respective families were members at the same church, and we probably passed each other numerous times without ever knowing it.
At Marion's wake, her family shared with us how she had touched so many people's lives. Her legacy lives on through her family, and her personal account of how she and her parents survived the Eastland Disaster is the legacy that will continue to live on through EDHS.