The City of Belleville is mourning the loss of former Belleville Mayor Mark W. Eckert this morning. Eckert passed away on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, after a seven-month battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.
The numerous lives he touched serving as the second longest mayor in the City of Belleville’s history is immeasurable, noted a city spokesperson.
Mayor Patty Gregory shared this statement at the passing of former Mayor Mark Eckert: “It is with sincere sympathy that I share the passing of former Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert. Mark served as a public servant for decades in our city, both as an Alderman for seven years and 16 years as Mayor of the City of Belleville. His passion for our city, its residents, and the many organizations he played a key role in was unwavering. I would also like to express my deepest condolences to his wife Rita, his children, and his grandchildren. Please keep his family and friends in your prayers.”
Former Mayor Eckert was first elected to serve as Belleville’s mayor for a for a four-year term in April 2005 following his appointment as Mayor in December 2004. Elected to a second term in April 2009, he was subsequently elected to a third term in April 2013 and to a fourth term in April 2017.
Eckert was the past president of the Illinois Municipal League Board from 2017 to 2018 and was still serving as a member of the IML Board of Directors. He was also a member of the board with the Greater Area Belleville Chamber of Commerce, Southwestern Illinois Council of Mayors, Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission (SILEC), Belleville Exchange Club, and Racial Harmony.
He served as president of the Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization, honorary chairman of the Belle-Scott Committee and the Belleville Sister Cities Organization, and also led the City of Belleville’s 30 delegates to Kansas City to compete for the 2011 All-America City Award. The City of Belleville was among the 10 finalists for this award from the National Civic League.
Eckert was also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Belleville Jaycees, Belleville News-Democrat SIUE Carol Kimmel Community Service Award, Catholic Social Service Award, Scoutmaster Award of Merit, George Meany Award, Belleville Sister Cities Herman Award, Racial Harmony Outstanding Community Service Award, NAACP Metro East Branch Partners in Justice Award, SILEC George A. Lanxon Award, and as a 2009 Belleville Township High School (BTHS) West Hall of Fame inductee and Metro Area Professional Organization 2012 Honoree.
Elected as a Belleville Alderman (Ward 5) in 1997, Eckert, as an Alderman, had previously chaired the Economic Development and Annexation Committee and Keep Belleville Beautiful Committee and was a member of the Master Sewer, Police and Fire, Health and Housing and West Main Improvement Committees. He owned and operated Maine Chimney Sweep, Ltd. from 1996 to 2007 and co-founded the Franklin Neighborhood Community Association, serving as its executive director from 1992 until December 1995. From 1973 until 1988, a total of 15 years, Eckert was employed by Pete Gaerdner Funeral Home and Paramedic Ambulance Service.
Completing Law Enforcement and Paramedic EMT training at the former Belleville Area College, Eckert was also a graduate of the Southwestern Illinois Police Academy and served as a St. Clair County Deputy Sheriff in 1978.
Active in Boy Scouting throughout his life, Eckert served as Scoutmaster for 12 years. His two sons are Eagle Scouts, with 30 other scouts from his troops also achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He volunteered with Hospice of Southern Illinois from 1982 to 1987, working with many child patients. His commitment to service was further evidenced through his previous volunteer roles as past president of Henry Raab School PTA, Belleville Main Street Inc., and the Southwestern Illinois Council of Mayors (2015-2017). He had further served as a member of the St. Clair County Historical Society Board, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (2013-2017) and the Lindenwood University Board of Directors in St. Charles, Mo. (2006-2010).
A life-long member and past president of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville, Eckert and his wife Rita have owned and operated Eckert Florist in Belleville for 23 years. They are the proud parents of their four children: Lt. Col. Matthew Eckert, a trauma surgeon in the United States Army, who is married to Carly; Kate, who is married to Jacob Kotler; Luke, who is married to Erika; and Lucy. Mayor Eckert and his wife, Rita, also have a grandson, Jackson, and a grandson, Patrick, born to Lt. Col. Matthew and Dr. Carly Eckert, and a grandson, Noah, and a grandson, Liam, born to Luke and Erika Eckert.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, June 18 from 2 to 8 p.m. and on Monday, June 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at St. Paul United Church of Christ (115 W B St, Belleville, IL 62220). Services will follow at the church at 12 Noon on Monday, June 19.