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Wymond Walter Eckhardt
Wymond Walter Eckhardt Jr. passed away June 23 at his home in Solvang, surrounded by his loving family after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 84.
Wymond was born in Los Angeles on April 23, 1930. He was the eldest child of Dr. Wymond and Marie Eckhardt of Glendale, where he grew up. Wymond received his Bachelor of Arts from George Pepperdine College in 1953. He went on to obtain his Masterâ€™s and Doctorate of Education from University of Southern California in 1970.
Wymond devoted his life to education in one form or another. He began as an elementary school teacher and bus driver at Round Valley School in the Owenâ€™s Valley in California. For several years he was an instructor at Los Angeles State University in the biology department. He retired as Professor Emeritus from Fresno State University in 1990 where he was the director of the Instructional Media Center.
A career in education provided Wymond with the opportunity each summer to pursue his life-long passion as a United States National Park Service Ranger. His first ranger assignment in 1954 was at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station where he greeted visitors to Yosemite National Park with enthusiasm and a bright smile. He spent many summers as a backcountry ranger and on fire patrol in Yosemite. He served one year as an instructor at the USNPS Training Center in Grand Canyon, Ariz. In 1971 he was named park manager of the Devilâ€™s Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes. He spent 30 blissful summers at the Postpile where colleagues remember him as a mentor and friend who demanded excellence and personally demonstrated how to get the job done. He retired from the USNPS in 2000 after 47 summers in service to a fortunate public.
A remarkable man with many interests and talents, Wymond was an avid pilot and accomplished photographer. He flew professionally for Fresno State University as well as being a USNPS ranger pilot. He also enjoyed many trips to Baja in his personal aircraft. He became a photographer at a very young age and was honored to carry Ansel Adamsâ€™ camera equipment for him one summer in Yosemite.
Wymond was very busy and active in his retirement years. In 1994 he became a member of the Executive Board of Bishop Mules Days where he served as Barns and Stalls Chairman for 20 years. He enjoyed his antique car collection and was a member of the SYV Model A Ford Club. He was a grandfather extraordinaire, spending countless hours in his barn teaching practical skills to his grandchildren and was always available to his family who relied on him for everything. He and his wife, Carole, recently celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary and shared fond memories of their first date at Tioga Pass in 1954.
Wymond is survived by his beloved wife, Carole; his sister, Bettye Rodman of Fresno; his stepchildren, Kathryn and Vahid Imani of Solvang and Steve and Jennifer Berman of Santa Ynez; grandchildren, David and Andrew Imani, Sheldon Gutwald, Emily and Olivia Berman; as well as nephews Bob Rodman and Tim Rodman; niece, Beth Rodman; great-nephew, Nathan Rodman; and great-nieces, Hannah and Katherine Rodman.
Wymond will be most remembered for his love of people and the value he placed on personal relationships. Each and every person he encountered, from the most prestigious to the most humble, meant something to him. He gave of himself in such a way that made each person feel important and special. He was a precious gift to all who knew him and he will never be forgotten.