John Ecker, 92, of Montauk Agency

Aug. 11, 1925 - June 25, 2018
John Ecker, Aug. 11, 1925 - June 25, 2018

John Ecker was 13 years old when the 1938 Hurricane struck the family restaurant near the shore of Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. In a 2012 event hosted by the East Hampton Historical Society, he recalled water surging on 80-mile-per-hour winds into their Trail’s End restaurant. At the time, people on the East End knew little about this kind of storm, but some of the Montauk developer Carl Fisher’s people, who had only recently been through one in Florida, did, and they had remarked at lunch that day that it appeared a hurricane was on the way.

Mr. Ecker, who later took over a Montauk insurance agency that would bear his name, died on Monday at the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead at the age of 92 with members of his family present. He had been ill for about 14 weeks, his family said. For many years, from the mid-1950s on, Mr. Ecker filled numerous leadership positions in local Republican politics and served on East Hampton Town governing boards.

He was born on Aug. 11, 1925, in Sheppton, Pa., to John Jacob Ecker and the former Catherine Fallon. When he was about 10, the family moved to Montauk, and he graduated from East Hampton High School in 1943. 

Almost immediately after high school, Mr. Ecker entered the Army, shipping out in October 1944, joining the 87th Infantry Division during World War II, and taking part in the Lorraine, France, campaign as an 81-millimeter mortar crewman. According to a report in The East Hampton Star from January 1945, then-Private Ecker was wounded in action in France. In March, The Star reported that Private Ecker was stateside, recuperating in a Long Island Army hospital. He was discharged as a corporal in January 1946.

After his military service, Mr. Ecker went on to graduate with a business degree from Fordham University in 1950. Returning to the area, he worked for a time at the Lester Motors auto dealership in East Hampton.

On Oct. 9, 1954, he and the former Eleanor LaVere married in Syracuse. The couple bought land on Marley Lane off Skimhampton Road in East Hampton that year, where they built a house. Known to friends and family as Mollie, Mrs. Ecker survives.

By the mid-1950s, Mr. Ecker became active in local politics, serving as the East Hampton Republican Party’s publicity chairman as the 1957 election approached, and later as its vice president. He was a member of the East Hampton Town Planning Board from 1958 to June 1960 and was on the board of directors of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Ecker was appointed an agent for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States in 1958 and worked out of its Riverhead office covering the East Hampton area. He also worked for a time for the E.T. Dayton agency in East Hampton. He bought the Richard T. Gilmartin Insurance Agency in Montauk in 1964, renamed it John Ecker Insurance, and ran it until he retired in 2005.

Mr. Ecker was appointed to the East Hampton Town Board following a board member’s resignation in 1960. He won election as a town justice of the peace that November. His brother, the late Edward Ecker Sr., was later a town supervisor.

Mr. Ecker was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was active at Guild Hall in East Hampton and was on the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church parish council. He was a life member of the East Hampton Lions Club and deeply committed to its charitable projects. He also was a member of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of New York.

When not working or taking part in his many community activities, Mr. Ecker made time to watch college basketball. His team was the Duke Blue Devils, and during the 1990s he traveled often to see N.C.A.A. tournaments and other games. In one stretch he saw Duke play 45 times in five years.

In addition to Mrs. Ecker, he is survived by their children, Karen Ecker of Acton, Mass., Mary Morgan of Chandler, Ariz., John J. Ecker of Water Mill, Jacqueline Jarboe of Montauk, and Charles Ecker of Danville, Calif., and five grandchildren. A brother, Msgr. Robert J. Ecker, who lives in Coronado, Calif., and Montauk, also survives.

A funeral Mass for Mr. Ecker will be said at Most Holy Trinity in East Hampton on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be in the church cemetery on Cedar Street in East Hampton.

Memorial donations have been suggested to Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 57 Buell Lane, East Hampton 11937.