On Jan. 7, 2021, Dr. Peter L. Eichman, 95, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, and entered into eternal life. The cause of death was heart failure (and not the coronavirus).
Peter was born on Nov. 18, 1925, in Philadelphia, Pa., to Edward Eichman, a physician, and Frances (Liebert) Eichman. He graduated from St. Joseph’s College and, in 1949, from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. In 1950-51, he was a resident at Walter Reed Army Hospital, specializing in the study of hepatitis and, for a time, conducting research in Munich, Germany. In 1952, he trained in neuropsychiatry and internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
In 1954, Peter joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, in Madison, Wis., as a professor of neurology, a position he held for nearly 50 years. In 1965, he was appointed dean of the Medical School — the youngest dean in the university’s history — and was instrumental in the creation of the university’s vast new medical center. While on leave in the early 1970s, he served at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., as director of the Bureau of Health Manpower. In the 1980s and 1990s, Peter was an active participant in Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio worldwide. He gave speeches on behalf of the campaign and helped raise money to buy vaccines for countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America where the polio virus was still active and the disease still a threat to local populations.
Peter married Phyllis Kettelhon, from Columbus, Wis., in 1959 and is survived by his wife and five children: Susan Uccellini (Columbia, Md.); Erich (New York City); Philip (Madison, Wis.); and Mary Schmidt and Liz Donahue, both residents of Green Valley. He has nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Peter and Phyllis moved to Green Valley full-time more than 20 years ago, becoming members of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. Peter was also a member of the Rotary Club of Green Valley, as well as Miles Christi and other faith-based groups. In his retirement, he was active in attending classes, giving lectures and taking video courses in everything from quantum physics to music appreciation. He had many wonderful friends. His faith and his family were at the very center of his life.
Per Peter’s request, there will be no memorial service. On Jan. 14, at the Green Valley Mortuary, Deacon Joseph Roinick, from Our Lady of the Valley, conducted a family service to bless Peter’s ashes, which will be interred at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison, Wis.
From the family: Our dad could provide calmness just by his presence, and warmth with his smile. He was gentle, kind, non-judgmental and oh so wise. We loved him so and miss him terribly. As he neared the end and was so weak, he was still working on helping others. We want to continue his final mission. He was concerned about older people living in isolation during the pandemic and was calling around to friends and acquaintances, urging them to check in on their neighbors — especially people who were living alone — and offer to chat, run errands or cook a meal. In short, to let them know that they were not alone at all.
We would like to thank the wonderful staff from Hospice Family Care for their amazing care during Peter’s final days.
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