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Albert Eichel, longtime educator, dies at 92

Albert Eichel, a longtime Long Islander with a

Albert Eichel, a longtime Long Islander with a passion for photography who served in World War II, was a “gadget man,” his youngest daughter said. He died of kidney failure on Oct. 5, 2012. He was 92. Newsday's obituary for Albert Eichel
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Albert Eichel, a longtime Long Islander with a passion for photography who served in World War II, was a "gadget man," his daughter said.

"He built his own TV from a kit," said Carol Anselmo, 63, of Massapequa. "He did everything. He built a riding mower in the '50s out of bicycle parts and an old lawn mower."

Because of his knack for gadgetry, Eichel, who went by "Bert," was known as a handyman in his Wantagh neighborhood, where he lived with his family from 1953 until his death due to kidney failure on Oct. 5. He was 92.

Eichel was born April 5, 1920, in Brooklyn to Charles and Fanny, and grew up in Flatbush. He skipped two grades in school and graduated from Midwood High School in Brooklyn at 16.

From there, Eichel went to Brooklyn College, where he received his bachelor of arts in 1940, and earned his master's in education from Columbia University in 1941.

The next year, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps pilots program as an aviation cadet, and flew with the 507th Fighter Group stationed in Majuro, an island off Japan. Eichel called it the best time of his life, Anselmo said.

"He wanted to be a pilot, but he was colorblind," she said, "so he had to memorize the colorblind test so he could get in."

It was during his time in the Army that Eichel met his wife, Mariam MacDermet, in Nebraska, where the plane he was on made an emergency plane landing on its way to the West Coast. They married in 1944, and Eichel was honorably discharged in 1946 at the rank of 1st lieutenant. He was awarded the Air Medal, the Asian Pacific Ribbon, three battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal, his family said.

After coming home, he was a science teacher at a junior high school in Brooklyn. In the 1960s, he earned his doctorate from New York University, and spent much of his career in the Lawrence school district, where he retired as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in 1978. He spent his latter years traveling with his wife.

"He traveled all over the world to get a good picture," Anselmo said.

Eichel is also survived by his wife, Mariam, 89; his sister, Lenore Meyer, 87, of Port Orange, Fla.; another daughter, Jane Hymiller, 65, of Sabillasville, Md.; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

After a private cremation ceremony, Eichel will be interred at the Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.

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