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obituary
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Edward Eichler spacee Edward Eichler

Edward "Ned" Philip Eichler, son of the developer of iconic Eichler homes and an industry pioneer in his own right, died of pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease at his Tiburon home on March 27. He was 83.

Mr. Eichler — who was active in Democratic politics, particularly in San Francisco — was the son of Joseph Leopold Eichler, a noted mass developer of modern mid-century homes for middle-class budgets that were known for their architecturally pleasing use of wood, high ceilings, skylights, expanses of glass and open floor plans. Early in his career, Mr. Eichler worked with his father off and on during the senior Eichler's development of more than 11,000 homes, 1,600 of them in Marin, with examples in Belvedere, Tiburon and Strawberry.

But the younger Mr. Eichler built a reputation of his own as an innovative pioneer in providing financing to troubled apartment complexes and as an adviser to housing-related organizations.

Born in San Francisco, Mr. Eichler grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula, attending elementary school in Hillsborough and then San Mateo High School, where he was on the swim team and won junior golf championships. He received his bachelor's degree in economics from Dartmouth College in 1951.

After college, Mr. Eichler worked as head of purchasing for his father's firm, Eichler Homes, for a year. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in its Signal Corps from 1952-1954, in Heidelberg, Germany, and in Paris.

After his tour of duty, he returned to the Bay Area and worked with Eichler Homes as marketing manager, where he developed the firm's system for acquiring materials and distributing them to job sites.

From 1968 to 1972, he worked for Klingbeil Capital Management in San Francisco, then went on to a job with The Palmieri Company in New York in 1973. From 1975 to 1979, he served as president of the Levitt Corporation, a large home-building firm.

In 1982, he founded his own mortgage banking firm, Eichler Corporation, a pioneering enterprise that provides refinancing for rehabilitation of existing apartment projects. He sold the company in 1995 and retired.

Mr. Eichler served as chairman of the California Governor's Commission on Housing for two years and was director of the New Communities Project, funded by the Ford Foundation, at the University of California at Berkeley.

He had served as a visiting lecturer at U.C. Berkeley; San Francisco State University; Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and University of San Francisco's Fromm Institute, his family said.

He wrote four books, including "The Thrift Debacle," published by University of California Press, and "The Merchant Builders," published by MIT Press.

He and his wife moved to Tiburon in 2003 and previously lived in Santa Barbara. He excelled at swimming and golf and loved to watch professional basketball, tennis and golf.

Until his illness, he and his wife enjoyed travel.

Mr. Eichler gave money to a music teaching organization founded by Roberta Guaspari and he sponsored a family of Refuseniks who fled the Soviet Union for California and helped them open a tutoring service, his wife said.

Mr. Eichler is survived by his wife of 12 years, Ava Eichler of Tiburon; three children, David Eichler of Daly City, Steven Eichler and Gina Tomaselli of Washington, D.C.; four granddaughters, Sarah and Lauren Eichler; and Taylor and Catheryn Elliott; and a stepdaughter, Erika Elliott of Tiburon. His brother, Richard, predeceased him.

A memorial service is at 2 p.m. May 31 at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, 2325 Union St., San Francisco.

Donations in his memory may be sent to the Ned Eichler Scholarship Fund for Savvy Caregiver Training, c/o The Alzheimer's Association, 4340 Redwood Highway, Suite 314, San Rafael, CA 94903.

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