Former U.S. Air Force pilot and original personal die-cutting machine inventor leaves lasting legacy
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2014) – Robert John Eichenberg, who pioneered the education and craft industries with the invention of the first personal die-cutting machine for Ellison® Educational Equipment, Inc., passed away on Saturday, August 16, from natural causes.
Eichenberg, 91, co-founded the company in 1977 with his wife, LaDorna, when he invented the Ellison LetterMachine® in their two-bedroom Newport Beach apartment. The couple risked their entire life savings to start what would eventually become an international corporation. He served Ellison for 14 years, building the company from the ground up through various roles including taking extensive sales trips, until his retirement in 1991. He also headed the Board of Directors alongside LaDorna until his passing.
“Bob’s death is a sad loss for the entire Ellison family and those who knew him,” said Kristin Highberg, Chief Executive Officer. “My grandfather helped shape education and crafting when he invented the LetterMachine and devoted so much of himself to our company, as well as to the community at large. We will miss him dearly.”
Born on October 12, 1922, Eichenberg grew up in San Bernardino, California and graduated from San Bernardino High School before briefly attending Chaffey College. His interest in flying led him to graduate from West Point in 1946 and serve as an Air Force fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. Eichenberg would continue flying in the Air Force Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel, before fully moving on with civilian life.
His life after service included working as a civil engineer for North American Aviation, taking a creative writing course at the University of California, Irvine, and serving as an aide to a state senator. Although a private man, Eichenberg contributed to various philanthropic efforts including local hospitals and the arts and educational communities.
Eichenberg is survived by his wife LaDorna, daughters Gena, Judith and Robin, stepdaughters Jorli and Lisa, as well as 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren, with one on the way.
Funeral services were held privately on Saturday, August 23. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Huntsman Cancer Institute Sarcoma Fund, University of Utah, 540 Arapeen Dr., Suite 250, Salt Lake City, UT 84108-1238 or VNA Hospice of Newport Beach, 2520 Red Hill Ave., Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92750.
About Ellison Educational Equipment Inc.
Since 1977, Ellison Educational Equipment, Inc. has been the recognized global leader of die-cutting machines, die-cutting products and shape-cutting accessories for the education market. The company was founded by an educator and has built its reputation developing high-quality, reliable die-cutting machines, products and accessories, coupled with innovative teaching principles that support all subject matters and grades K-12. For more information about Ellison Educational Equipment and its standards-based curriculum, please visitwww.EllisonEducation.com.
Launched in 2001, Sizzix is a division of Ellison Educational Equipment Inc., the market pioneer and leader of die-cutting machines and accessories. Through its portfolio of die-cutting machines and die-cutting products, Sizzix leverages Ellison’s 37 years of proven manufacturing and technology heritage to empower creativity among its customer base with new and innovative products. Sizzix is a recognized global brand that can be found in over 100 countries and in major and specialty retailers. For more information on Sizzix and its line of craft-inspiring products, please visit www.Sizzix.com/home.
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