Mary Virginia "Ginger" Eckenrode

Date of Death: 10/6/2017

Mary Virginia “Ginger” Eckenrode, 82, of Carrolltown, died at home Friday, October 6, 2017, after an extended illness, surrounded by her loving family.  Ginger lived an ordinary life of extraordinary impact, touching the lives of thousands of other people through her work in nursing and her passion for community service and her church.  Ginger was born in Patton on August 1, 1935, the daughter of Mark and Ruth (Shunkwiler) Brown. She was preceded in death by four brothers, Mark, Thomas, Charles and Jack; and two sisters, Rita and Norma. She is survived by her younger brother, Kenneth J., of Patton, his wife, Carol, numerous nieces and nephews, and sister-in-law Rose Crawford, Vista, Calif.  She married Alfred J. Eckenrode, on June 30, 1962, at St. Mary’s Church in Patton. He preceded her in death in 2010.  Together, Fred and Ginger raised eight children, who survive her: Raymond and Amy Jo (Hanna) Eckenrode, Patton; Eileen and Dave Foster, Columbia, Md.; Amy and Don Clayton, Gulf Breeze Fla.; Rebecca Eckenrode and Rick Gwizdak, Carrolltown; John and Judi (Shero) Eckenrode, Fairfax, Va.; Jenny and John Fees, Carrolltown; Eric and Stacey (Moore) Eckenrode, Carrolltown; Scott Eckenrode and Kathleen Plouse-Heming, Carrolltown. She was preceded in death by a daughter-in-law, Karen Grigg-Eckenrode.  Ginger is also survived by 16 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, who were her pride and joy in her later years: Stephanie Foster, Columbia, Md.; Jude Eckenrode, Carrolltown; Brock and Hunter Clayton, Gulf Breeze, Fla.; Nicole Gresko (husband Justin) and daughter, Mia, Vintondale; Richard and Alyssa Gwizdak, Carrolltown; Jordan Fees (wife Amber) and children Kennedy and Easton, Carrolltown; John Fees (fiancé Kirsten Bell), Pittsburgh; Josh Fees, Carrolltown; Kevin Bertram, Seoul, South Korea; Cooper and Elena Eckenrode, Carrolltown; Katelynn, Kerynn and Kolynn Eckenrode, Temple, Texas. She is also survived by three step grandchildren, James Heming II, Gabrielle Heming and Caleb Wetherson.  Her Catholic faith was the most important thing in Ginger’s life and her roles as wife and mother were rooted in that faith. She was active in her church, St. Benedict’s in Carrolltown, and the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in numerous ways, culminating in her being awarded the Prince Gallitzin Cross in 1998. She served seven years on the Diocesan Lay Commission and also was a marriage tribunal advocate on the diocesan level. At St. Benedict’s, she was co-chairperson of the Church Festival Committee for 10 years and a member of the Finance Committee and the Evangelization and Liturgical Committee. She was a lector for many years and considered her reading voice a gift from God. She was a past president of the Altar Rosary Society, a second grade C.C.D. teacher and vice regent for the Catholic Daughters of America Court Our Lady of Victory. She was a Birthright volunteer and a member of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. She was former president of the St. Benedict Home-School Association and a member of the St. Jude League. Ginger had a special relationship with St. Jude, who she often called her best friend.  Ginger was involved in many community-based activities in Carrolltown and she and her husband were given the borough’s first Outstanding Citizens Award in 2002. She managed and operated the concession stand at the Carrolltown Little League field for 18 years, starting off in the bed of the family pickup truck, an undertaking that led to the formation of the Carrolltown Recreation Commission, where she was a charter member. She helped oversee the startup of the borough’s annual Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Parade and Christmas decorating contest. Ginger was also the former cheerleading advisor at Cambria Heights High School and a charter member of the school district’s Curriculum Advisory Committee. A registered nurse, she graduated from Johnstown Mercy School of Nursing in 1957. She was employed at Miners Hospital in Spangler for 30 years and then in the office of Dr. Alfredo Reyes for 10 more. Her patients were her passion and many of them became her friends. She was past president of the Northern Cambria Nurses Association and sat on the board of trustees at Miners Hospital for 18 years. She was also on the board of trustees for Mom’s House in Northern Cambria and was a Red Cross volunteer for many years. Ginger was a breast cancer survivor and active in many cancer-related charities. Her second cancer battle, this time with bladder cancer, ended not with a loss, but in a draw.  In her spare time, Ginger loved to travel, swim, play bingo and, most importantly, attend her children and grandchildren’s sporting events. She was an avid and loud fan of Pittsburgh professional teams and amateur teams from Carrolltown, Patton, Cambria Heights and Johnstown.  She could often be found sitting behind home plate at baseball games and was never shy about offering her opinions or advice to coaches and umpires alike.  Friends will be received from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Stevens Funeral Home, Inc. in Carrolltown, where a vigil for the deceased will be held.  Funeral Mass will be celebrated at noon on Wednesday at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Patton, where Ginger was baptized, received First Holy Communion and confession and where she was married. Committal St. Benedict Cemetery, Carrolltown.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Ginger’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148-0142 or the Carrolltown Recreation Commission, Box 307, 140 East Carroll Street, Carrolltown PA 15722. Ginger liked to say you are never dead as long as someone remembers you. In that sense, she’ll be with us always, as her spirit and grace will be impossible to forget.  (


Re: Ginger Eckenrode by Roxann Brown
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