Irma Elizabeth EichhornSeptember 23, 1926 ~ August 25, 2017 (age 90)
Irma Elizabeth Eichhorn
Irma Elizabeth Eichhorn, 90, of Los Gatos, California passed away Friday, August 25, 2017 at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California. She was Professor Emeritus of History at San Jose State University. Irma was born September 23, 1926 in Montrose, Colorado, the daughter of Rev. Jacob and Elizabeth (Strauch) Eichhorn. Her parents were Volga Germans from Russia who immigrated to the United States from Berlin, Germany in 1924. The family moved to Saginaw, Michigan in 1927 where her father served as pastor of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church until his retirement in 1958. Irma graduated as valedictorian of Arthur Hill High School in 1944 and was awarded the competitive four-year Arthur Hill scholarship to the University of Michigan. She played violin in the high school orchestra and served as organist at the church. She enjoyed tennis and was a member of the Saginaw Tennis Club.
Her many honors at Michigan included election to Wyvern, Senior Society, Mortar Board and Phi Beta Kappa and numerous scholarships. Of special importance to her was her election as President of the Assembly Association, the all-campus organization for independent women. In the spring of 1948, she was one of six Midwestern college seniors selected as winner of a full tuition plus stipend graduate fellowship for three years of study, awarded by the Pepsi Cola Scholarship Board. She received BA (1948) and MA (1949) degrees in modern European history from the University of Michigan. She continued her studies at Michigan and in 1952 received a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Vienna in Austria.
Upon returning to the US she spent two years as assistant to the Dean of Women at the University of North Carolina. From 1955 until her retirement in 1994 Irma was a member of the San Jose State University History Department, where she became a full professor. She was an outstanding teacher and received the California Governor’s Award for teaching excellence. Irma had numerous publications and gave presentations in the US, Canada and Europe. She was a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) and The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR). An active member of the AHSGR Golden Gate Chapter of California, she was an officer and frequent program presenter at the local and national level. She was a member of the First Congregational Church of San Jose.
Irma was fluent in German and had a good grasp of Russian. She made numerous trips to Europe, especially Germany, doing research and visiting relatives and family friends. She first visited Russia in 1975. It was not until 1993 that she was able to enter the Volga River region, where her German ancestors had settled as colonists in 1766. Irma made five additional trips to Russia. Of great significance to her were her two visits to relatives in Komsomolsk on the Amur River in the Russian Far East and in the Crimea. In 2008 she traveled to Argentina where she met newly found Volga German relatives.
She was an enthusiastic participant at family vacations and holiday gatherings and shared her love of history, especially family history, with her nieces and nephews and their children.
She is survived by two brothers, Dr. Jacob Eichhorn (Mary) of Midland, Michigan and their children, Kurt (Carolyn) Eichhorn of Westport, Connecticut, Eric Eichhorn of Bedford, New York and Karen (Eric) Comstock of Fishers, Indiana; and Dr. Erwin (Donis) Eichhorn, MD of Carmichael, California, and their children, Robert Eichhorn, San Francisco, California, Rebecca (Larry) Schoen, Bellevue, Idaho and Nancy Eichhorn, Carmichael, California; Also surviving are great nieces and nephews, Lindsay, Anna, Dylan, Sophia, Jordan, William, Emily and Katarina. She is also survived by Michelle Eichhorn.
Irma will be greatly missed by family and friends in many parts of the world. A private graveside service will be held in Midland City Cemetery. Rev. Roger C. Pancost of the Midland United Church of Christ will officiate. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to AHSGR, 631 D Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68502.
The family invites Irma’s friends in California to join them on Sunday, September 24 at First Congregational Church of San Jose to remember her during the 10AM worship service.