Melba Eichen

Obituary of Melba Marie Eichen

Melba Marie Eichen, of Carlinville, passed away January 22, 2022, at Heritage Health of Carlinville, a result of COVID-19. She was born September 3, 1924, the eldest of six, to Harry and Loretta Schaefer Klaus. Due to a difficult labor, she had the unusual-for-the-era privilege of being born in St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL instead of in their farmhouse near Nilwood. She started first grade at Prairie Chapel School and completed her rural school education at Honey Point School, graduating 8th grade as one of the top students in Macoupin County. Melba began secondary education with Carlinville High School class of 1942 but withdrew due to illness, and ultimately earned her diploma from American School of Chicago. She was a lifelong learner and avid reader, focusing on current events, agriculture and farm issues, and biographies. She instilled her love of knowledge and books in her younger siblings, children, and grandson. Melba lived in Honey Point Township most of her life, but in the two years her dad rented a farm in Brushy Mound Township, she met a young farmer. She and Morrell Eichen were married April 4, 1948, in Carlinville and were together for 64 years until Morrell’s death in 2012. They lived in Honey Point until they moved to Carlinville in 1999, residing on the Macoupin County Historical Society grounds, where Morrell served as a caretaker. They had a son, Lynn, and nearly ten years later, a daughter, Peggy Ann. Melba’s only grandchild, Sage, didn’t arrive until she was 75 and she loved being Grandma. Despite chronic health issues and many hospitalizations, Melba was a dedicated homemaker, farm wife, and devoted mom, and involved in clubs. As a girl, she was a proud member of Sunnyside of Honey Point 4-H Club, and the program’s importance has continued in her family. Both her children were active in 4-H, her daughter is a volunteer 4-H leader in Missouri, and her grandson is studying sustainable agriculture and 4-H program develop at University of Missouri. Melba was a member of Shaws Point Home Bureau, Friendly Neighbors Club, and the Atwater Sewing Club, enjoying friendship and food over the years. She and Morrell were early members of the Macoupin County Historical Society and Macoupin Agricultural Antiques Association, where she volunteered many hours and made good friends. Melba enjoyed words, whether writing, solving crossword puzzles, or playing word games. She won several slogan-writing contests in her younger days, including one with a prize of cash and a new Case tractor. A talented cook and baker, she made countless double batches of chocolate chip cookies to supply her son, hay crews, and anyone who dropped in. Her BBQ beef sandwiches, Caesar salad, homemade ice cream, and variety of desserts, cookies, candy, jelly, and pickles were enjoyed by all. No one left her house hungry. She created unique holiday ornaments for years as gifts for everyone she knew. And she tolerated an endless parade of cats, dogs, birds, fish, bugs, and pet raccoons in the house over the years. She loved and encouraged her family and extended family and always took pride in their accomplishments. Melba is survived by her daughter Peggy Ann Eichen (Gary Burch), of Prairie Home, MO, daughter-in-law Donna Coonrod, of Carlinville, grandson Sage Eichenburch, of Prairie Home, MO, brother Loren (Norma) Klaus, of The Woodlands, TX, sister Margaret ‘Peggy’ Klaus, of Carlinville, sister Beverly (Jim) Holler, of Platteville, WI, sister-in-law Jean Klaus, of Carlinville, and valued nieces and nephews and their families. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, son Lynn Eichen, brother Robert ‘Bob’ Klaus, sister Norma Keagy, brother-in-law Russell Keagy, sister-in-law Marilyn Eichen, sister-in-law Marcella ‘Sally’ Kaufman, and brother-in-law Robert Kaufman. No services are planned. A celebration of life will be held later when it is safer for gatherings. Memorials are suggested to Macoupin County Historical Society or Macoupin Agricultural Antique Association.
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