HELPED OPEN HOSPITAL DOORS IN 1986 AND OPEN DOORS TO THOSE WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH ADVOCACY
Edward A. Eckenhoff
March 4, 1943 – January 10, 2018
Edward A. Eckenhoff passed away peacefully with family and friends at his side on January 10, 2018, at the age of 74, at his home in Naples, Fla. He is survived by his devoted wife Judi Eckenhoff, his brothers Walt Eckenhoff and Roderic Eckenhoff, many nieces and nephews, and their dog Bogey. He was a gifted leader and remarkable friend. His accomplishments and zest for life inspired everyone who knew him.
Ed grew up on the New Jersey shore and excelled at football and track throughout high school. He went on to earn a B.S. in Biology from Transylvania University in Kentucky in 1966, a Master’s degree in Education and Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 1968, and a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in 1972.
In 1963 at age 20, he was in a motor vehicle accident that killed his college roommate, who was driving, and left Ed with paraplegia. For the rest of his life, he used braces and crutches to walk. This was a defining moment in Ed’s life and led to a career of helping others with physical disabilities.
In 1974, Ed became vice president of administration at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It was in Chicago that Ed met the love of his life, Judi, who was working in the same field as an occupational therapist. They were soon married and Ed and Judi moved to Washington, D.C., in 1983 to pursue a dream of building a freestanding medical rehabilitation hospital to serve the Greater Washington community and patients throughout the country that required specialized rehabilitative care. In 1986, the National Rehabilitation Hospital opened its doors under Ed’s leadership, with the backing of a prestigious Board of Directors that Ed handpicked to join him. From the beginning, NRH was part of what has become MedStar Health, the largest health care provider in the D.C., and Baltimore regions.
Under Ed’s leadership, MedStar NRH grew dramatically and has since served thousands of inpatients and outpatients; has grown from a single site of care to more than 50 outpatient locations in the region; has become a center for training and education for rehabilitation professionals; and today boasts a significant research portfolio aimed at improving function, cognition, and independence. It is consistently rated among the best rehabilitation hospitals in the country by US News & World Report, and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in the field. During his career, Ed helped thousands of people living with disabilities. He was an inspiration to us all, and created a culture of care that continues to permeate our halls and resonate with our patients.
Ed was an avid and passionate golfer and used one arm to swing. He always drew attention and admiration on the golf course not only because of the way he played, but also because he seldom lost a game. His zest for the game of golf was infectious. While Ed loved the competition, his love for golf was more about the camaraderie and the friendships that were built on the course.
Ed Eckenhoff was on the Board of the American Hospital Association, a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a member of the Healthcare Research and Development Institute (HRDI), Chair of the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA), and served on the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. He was “Washingtonian of the Year” in 1989, and received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from his alma mater, Transylvania University.
Those that knew Ed understood his unique ability to live life to its fullest; to never let obstacles get in the way, and to exude a love for life that few others can emulate.
Arrangements are underway to hold a memorial service in the spring. Ed’s family is requesting that donations be made to the Adding Life to Years® Campaign with MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. Please visit www.giving.medstarhealth.org/edwardeckenhoff or make checks payable to MedStar NRH, 102 Irving St NW, Washington, D.C., 20010.