Brenda Carol Eichelberger
Brenda Carol Eichelberger, 1959-2020, passed away peacefully at home in Tualatin, Oregon, April 4, 2020 due to myelodysplastic syndrome.
Those of us who knew Brenda well would frequently find ourselves sitting at her dinner table in front of a sumptuous feast, talking about the best thing that happened to us that day, smiling as we recalled something that, without her prompting, we may have pushed aside in our minds. Friends coming together to share a meal at a table was especially important to her, an opportunity to connect regardless of age, race, religion, and sometimes even language. Brenda loved feeding people and hosting parties, bringing everyone together, and always adopting a few new friends.
At 16 years old Brenda discovered her inner strength by helping her father battle alcoholism and that experience led her on the path to using her strength & wisdom to help all in her purview.
Knowing she could make a difference in the lives of others, she volunteered wherever she could. In addition to being a dedicated Room Mom at Byrom Elementary for her children and assisting with several local election campaigns, Brenda also volunteered on the Tualatin City Budget Advisory Committee, chairing that group for two years. More recently, she assisted Mercy Corp Northwest as a Board Member for the Women's Business Center, and was a member of the Mercy Corp Northwest Loan Committee where she spent hours mentoring small business start-ups.
Brenda wanted to get back into teaching after completing her MBA, so she agreed when a friend asked her to teach a class at Portland Community College. This was the start of a 25-year teaching career at PCC, CCC and PSU. Within a few years she began making significant contributions to Portland State University School of Business, initially revitalizing the BA101 course and then the Personal Finance course FIN218.
Her time at PSU included several teaching exchange trips to Russia and Serbia, where she made friendships with professors that last to this day, helping to bridge the gap between these countries.
Regardless of the course title, she encouraged her students to get involved with the university and to learn social and financial responsibility to improve their lives. Countless stories came back to her from those who were grateful she had shown them an opportunity or nudged them in a direction that would change their lives forever. In recognition of her contributions to the students and faculty at Portland State University, PSU has named a teaching award after her; The Brenda Eichelberger Extra Mile Award, "in honor of her consistent pattern of self-less dedication to our students that serves as a role model for her colleagues."
We were lucky to learn many lessons from Brenda. In addition to her successful personal finance class at Portland State University, she encouraged volunteering, assisting with non-profits, and never giving up on an opportunity. One her fondest memories of teaching was the standing ovation she received from her students on her last day at PSU.
While the cancer she was diagnosed with would shorten her time with us, she was determined that others would have better opportunities for treatments. She initiated and helped pass Oregon State Senate Bill 316, giving greater access to clinical trials for all patients in Oregon. Brenda braved the pain of trial treatments for several years, but when it became clear there was no medical solution for her rapidly deteriorating health she showed amazing character and strength, believing in the wisdom and grace of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act which eased her being in the days before her death.
Brenda was preceded in death by her father, Richard Nolan. She is survived by her loving spouse, Eric Eichelberger, Tualatin, OR; children Katie Eichelberger, Nashville, TN, Evan Eichelberger, Portland, OR; her mother, Bernie Nolan, Milwaukie, OR; sisters Linda Roberts, Washougal, WA, Patricia Nomie (Norman), Sandra Grand (Roger); nieces Angie (Chris), Jamie; nephews Habib (Dorcas), Ryan; grandnieces Faith, Sailor and Ayla.
For the health and safety of family and friends during this Covid-19 crisis, the family will plan a memorial service later this year.
The Eichelberger family is grateful for the support from End of Life Choices, Oregon, and from the Lymphoma Leukemia Society. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to EOLCOR at https://eolcoregon.org/donate/ or LLS at https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate Our heartfelt thanks to Brenda for guiding, nurturing, and encouraging so many of us to be better, and teaching us we can change lives, starting with our own. We love you. We miss you.