Diane St. John Eckholdt, artist, civil rights activist

The Baltimore Sun

Diane St. John Eckholdt, an accomplished artist and civil rights activist, was killed Feb. 9 in an automobile accident on Dulaney Valley Road. The Glen Arm resident was 69.

Diane St. John Walz was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Forest Park neighborhood. She was a 1957 graduate of Forest Park High School and attended the University of Maryland in College Park.

While working at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center as a phlebotomist, she met Dr. John W. Eckholdt, whom she married in 1964.

Dr. Eckholdt, who later was chief of neurology at Mercy Medical Center, died in 2003.

During the 1980s, Mrs. Eckholdt, a gourmet cook who had studied in France and Italy, established the Brown Pelican restaurant in Frederick and later became part owner of the Blue Heron in Westminster.

Her interest in pottery-making, painting and needlepoint led to study at the Schuler School of Fine Arts and the Mitchell School of Fine Arts in Ruxton. She had been a board member of Baltimore Clayworks and was a docent at the Walters Art Museum.

An avid gardener, Mrs. Eckholdt took horticulture courses at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa.

Mrs. Eckholdt, a lifelong civil rights activist, participated in the historic 1963 March on Washington, family members said.

Dorothy Phillips, wife of the late Rev. Wendell H. Phillips, who had pastored Heritage United Church of Christ, was a longtime friend.

"She worked tirelessly along with Wendell, Rev. Vernon Dobson, Dr. Homer Favor and others in civil rights activities and numerous political campaigns in Baltimore, most notably the election of the late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell," Mrs. Phillips said.

"Diane was a free spirit who loved life and was faithful and committed to her family and friends," Mrs. Phillips said.

Mrs. Eckhodt was a member of Chestnut Grove Presbyterian Church in Phoenix, Baltimore County, where services were held Saturday.

Surviving are a son, Haftan Eckholdt of New York City; and a daughter, Tracy Herd of Chesapeake Beach.

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