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Carol and Bill Eckerle make multi-million dollar legacy gift to Cincinnati museums

CINCINNATI – In a generous demonstration of their belief in access to culture and education for every member of our community, Carol and William “Bill” Eckerle have left an $18 million gift to three leading Cincinnati institutions. Bequests of roughly $6 million each will support the endowments of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center and the Taft Museum of Art.

Bill Eckerle passed away nearly one year ago. He was preceded in death by Carol in 2020.

“The Eckerles had the foresight and philanthropic spirit to make planned gifts to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center and the Taft Museum of Art,” shared David Hausrath, member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Finance Committee, Taft Museum of Art and Member of the Board of Directors and Chair of Investment Committee, Cincinnati Museum Center. “Museums held a special place in their hearts, and they knew that their gift would leave a lasting legacy on these cultural institutions, providing for long-term financial sustainability that is so crucial for our nonprofits and the communities they serve.”

Mr. and Mrs. Eckerle were familiar faces at the Cincinnati Art Museum for many years, regularly attending events and building community with its staff and supporters.

“Carol and Bill had an abiding interest in the youth of our region and providing opportunities to build a better Cincinnati from the universal starting point of individual respect. Their gift amplifies the power of art to interweave our community and is characteristic of the embrace they felt for our museums. I will forever remember the warmth and optimism that surrounded them at every event and occasion at the Cincinnati Art Museum,” remarked Cameron Kitchin, Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director.

At Cincinnati Museum Center, the Eckerles particularly enjoyed immersing themselves in–and furthering their education about–Cincinnati history, in which they took a great deal of pride.

“Bill and Carol were devoted friends of Cincinnati and our community history. They loved exploring the treasures of our collections and seeing history in immersive detail on our Public Landing and at the opening of our Made in Cincinnati exhibit last fall. Bill was proud of what this region has accomplished and was so touched to know that his University of Cincinnati fraternity brother Tom Huenefeld had made possible through his bequest,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Bill and Carol were lovely people and I’m grateful I had the chance to know them for many years through Cincinnati Museum Center, and that our community will get to know our city’s art and culture through them.”

Shortly after her arrival at the Taft Museum of Art in the fall of 2022, Rebekah Beaulieu, PhD, Louise Taft Semple President & CEO, met Mr. Eckerle and discussed the institution’s incredible potential for its future endeavors.

“In a small but meaningful gesture, Bill visited the Taft last winter to welcome me to the museum and express his love for this institution,” shared Dr. Beaulieu. “As our team at the Taft is actively embracing the next chapter of the museum, I often think back to that conversation. We bonded over the untapped potential to improve the experience of the museum for our community members, within and beyond our walls. In welcoming the city’s newest face to the table and in this selfless act of philanthropy, Bill’s generosity will continue to be transformational. The Eckerles believed in continuing a legacy, as well as steadfast commitment to ensure a thriving arts scene and vibrant community. We couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of that work.”

Museum information:

Cincinnati Art Museum