Donald Eckerle, 1936-2022 #usa

Renee Steinig

With great sadness, I share news of the death yesterday, November 22, 2022, of Donald Eckerle, 86, a driving force behind the indexing of millions of vital and naturalization records for New York City and beyond.

In October, in a note to colleagues explaining his absence from the monthly meeting of the Genealogy Federation of Long Island, Don wrote that he was in the hospital for a few days, and added, "I'll probably be out mid-week.... Nothing to worry about." Unfortunately that was not to be.

Don, a founding member and longtime database administrator of Long Island's German Genealogy Group, worked closely with John Martino of the Italian Genealogical Group on the indexing project: Don handled the computer work while John recruited, organized and motivated a huge cadre of volunteers, from Long Island and beyond, including members of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island and other JGSs. 
In 2014, Don and John, along with the GGG's Bob Boeckle, received the National Genealogical Society's Award of Merit in recognition of their "exceptional contribution to the field of genealogy" -- creating "one of the most important databases in the US" and offering it free to "family researchers all over the world as a gateway to finding their New York ancestors."

The vital records indexes that Don helped to create are now being used on the NYC Municipal Archives's new Historical Vital Records website.

Don's family will receive visitors at the Clayton Funeral Home, 25 Meadow Road, Kings Park, NY, on Monday, Nov. 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Burial will be on Tuesday morning, Nov. 29, at Calverton National Cemetery, where Don's friend and colleague John Martino was laid to rest in seven years ago.


Renee Steinig
Dix Hills (Long Island), NY