Josephine Eckman


Josephine Eckman, 78, Bismarck, passed away June 14, 2024, in a Bismarck care center.  Mass of Christian Burial will be on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. at Church of Corpus Christi, Bismarck.  Visitation will be on Friday, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Bismarck Funeral Home with a Rosary service at 7:00 p.m.

Josephine (Welder) Eckman was the third child of Catherine and Mike Welder, having let her twin brother, Joseph, join the world 15 minutes before her. Her early years on the farm north of Napoleon consisted of many chores and fun with her siblings. She liked to work closely with her mother in the house but still milked cows, picked rocks, and helped with the processing of animals, among many other chores. She was often the subject of her brothers’ pranks. In 8th grade, she was enrolled at the St. Frances Academy in Hankinson, ND, for high school and religious formation. After high school, Josephine entered the novitiate at St. Francis Academy and continued her education at Alverno College. Before taking her final vows, she left the Franciscan order in 1969. She continued her education at Moorhead State and graduated with a degree in Elementary education.

Over the years, she taught at schools in Wahpeton, Fergus Falls, and Richardton. Eventually, on Christmas Day 1971, Josephine’s younger siblings, Michael and Shirley, brought her along to a garage party where she met a tall, skinny, dark-haired gentleman with a great mustache. Marvin Eckman courted her for two years; since he lived in Jamestown and she was in Richardton, he went through a tank of gas or two visiting her frequently. They were engaged during the midnight showing of The Godfather on New Year’s Eve 1972/1973, sealing the deal on June 30, 1973.

From 1976 through 1980, their family grew with the additions of Jackie, Jennifer, and Daniel. Those who knew Jo, as she liked to go by, would also know raising three kids was not enough. In addition to rearing her kids, she worked on genealogy projects tracing the family history of her and Marvin’s families as far as records in the USA, Soviet Union, and Germany would allow. Her detective work involved gathering records from families to write four family history books (Wald, Feist, Welder, and Eckman-Harr families) with pictures and information provided via letters, phone calls, church records, county courthouses, cemeteries, and visits to far-flung relatives. She was also an active volunteer in the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. In 1988, she co-authored Food’ N Customs: Recipes of the Black Sea Germans.  It was an excellent summer for the family as they helped by taste-testing the recipes and became hopelessly addicted to carbs and sugar.

Once all the children were school-aged, Josephine returned to teaching, first as a substitute teacher and eventually as a permanent 7th-grade art teacher at Hughes Junior High School and Horizon Middle School in Bismarck. Little did she know one of those students would become her daughter-in-law. Along with teaching she led multiple clubs: Capital Quilters Club, Capital Clovers 4-H Club, and Hughes Photo and Yearbook Clubs.

After retirement, she was able to start her next adventures: becoming a grandma and snow birding in Arizona. She always loved seeing the kids, and she would have a huge smile on her face. They adored their grandma.

Josephine’s love for art and design has always been evident through her passion for making beauty wherever possible. Josephine rarely had idle hands; a brief list of her activities includes cooking, crafts, gardening, reading, quilting, pickling, painting, photography, pinochle, polka dancing, and pottery. She also loved traveling and had a reputation for trying local foods, including smoked worms in South Africa, and always lived life to the fullest.

Her earthly journey ended on June 14, 2024, and she was called back to the Father.  Her last years were a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease. The family would especially like to thank the staff of the Western Skies neighborhood of Baptist Home for the care and love they showed Josephine over the past two years.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Mike and Catherine (Mathern) Welder. She is survived by her husband, Marvin Eckman; her children, Jackie (Casey Kimes) Eckman, Jennifer (Adam Kilzer) Eckman, and Dan (Alina Austin-Eckman) Eckman; her grandchildren: Jeffrey Kilzer, Maximus Eckman, Silas Eckman, Madeline Kimes, Elizabeth Kilzer and Cassiel Eckman; her siblings: Tony (Kathy) Welder, Joe (Bernie) Welder, Mike (Peggy) Welder, and Shirley (Pat) McMullen as well as numerous nephews and nieces.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Josephine’s memory to Germans from Russia Heritage Society or the Alzheimer’s Association.

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I knew Mrs. Eckman thru 4-H. I knew Daniel thru church youth group. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers! *grant her eternal rest oh lord and may your perpetual light shine upon her*

Dear Eckman Family,
Linda and I send condolences as you grieve Josephine’s passing. I knew her as a substitute teacher and especially as the mother of memorable students at Simle.
May you find peace and comfort in Jesus.
In Christ’s love,
Steve and Linda Aafedt

We had lots in common
Both twins , we loved teaching art, even painted a Bison or buffalo. Together.
Jo I miss you my friend
Thanks so much for your friendship

Marvin, I wish to express my sympathy to you and your family. I did not know Josehine well but want to express condolences to a classmate at Burnstad school many years ago. God Bless.