The College of Engineering is sad to note the passing of William “Bill” Edward Eichinger, 68, a licensed engineer who taught civil engineering tools and fluid mechanics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa for 20 years. Eichinger passed away on January 30, 2023, at his home in Hickory, North Carolina.
Born April 26, 1954, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, he was the oldest of five children born to the late Leo and Marian Oberhofer Eichinger. Eichinger graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1976 and later returned to teach physics. He was honorably discharged from the Army as a major in 1991 and transitioned to civilian life with a PhD in physics from the University of California, Davis. Eichinger traveled and lived all over the world, including at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, as well as in South Korea and Slovenia, doing scientific research for both military and civilian projects. The 2016 Fulbright Scholar became a visiting professor at the University of Slovenia. During his 20 years at Iowa, Eichinger received three major teaching awards along with many other awards, held the William D. Ashton Endowed Chair, and retired as professor emeritus in 2019. During his career, he published 400+ scientific papers and a scientific textbook and was on the cover of Scientific American.
Eichinger’s love for teaching and working with bright young minds all over the world was evident. During his retirement, he was an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. He was an extraordinary and gifted teacher and was highly active in mentoring student organizations such as the Concrete Canoe at Iowa and the Rocket Club at Lenoir-Rhyne. He fondly recalled a road trip with his wife, Leanne, to deliver the students’ rocket to Space America for launch.
After his daughter, Heidi Holder, and her family moved to Hickory, the Eichingers soon followed. Eichinger is remembered for an unmatched love for his grandchildren and being a beacon of pride at their concerts and sporting events. He spent his last weekend shagging balls with his grandson and attending a volleyball tournament for his granddaughter. Survivors include his loving wife of 46 years, Leanne Marie Darrow Eichinger; his beloved daughter, Heidi Holder, and her husband Chris of Hickory; and two grandchildren, Darrow Holder (14) and Bronwyn Holder (13), both of Hickory.