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John "Jack" Kenneth Eickhof passed away on Febru-ary 20, 2020 in St. Paul, MN at the age of 96. Jack was a general contractor and a partner in Otto J. Eickhof and Sons Construction Company for most of his career. He lost a daughter's named Gretchen in a pri-vate airplane accident while she was attending Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. This tragedy provided an impetus for Jack to design a columbarium in her honor. He believed his daughters cremated remains should be protected and stored in a safe dignified memorial. At the time in the early eighties there were few columbaria and none in his hometown of Crookston, MN. Jack convinced his church to build one.
During the design of the columbarium Jack came to realize the shortcomings of existing exposed fasteners for the marble niche fronts. He had a better idea- a unique concealed hardware system. Jacks' son Paul suggested marketing the hardware system to the interment industry. For the next seven years, Jack and Paul worked closely with cemetery customers to refine the hardware. While marketing this unique hardware system to the industry, Paul discovered that customers were also looking for a better way to build columbarium niches. Instead of costly, labor intensive, poured concrete construction techniques, Jack developed a simple, modular columbarium niche system using lightweight, 3/8" thick cement fiber building board. After years of improvement, the result is a complete system that is structurally sound and secure with virtually limitless design potential. Today, the Eickhof Columbarium niche system is at the heart of beautiful, custom designed memorials throughout cemeteries and churches in North America, South America, Australia, and Puerto Rico.