Ralph H. Eckhart was born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 29, 1907, according to the Ohio, Births and Christenings Index at Ancestry.com. In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of two children born to Harry and Bessie. His father was a teamster at a dairy company. The family lived in Cleveland at 1967 West 75th Street.
In 1920 the family lived in Ashland, Ohio at 608 Ohio Street. His father manufactured brooms. The Cleveland Plain Dealer on May 15, 1960, said: “…he was a graduate of West High School. He was an outstanding sandlot baseball player in early years….” Eckhart was a newspaper artist according to the 1930 census. He lived with his parents in Cleveland at 3141 West 84th Street. The Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, at Ancesty.com, recorded his marriage, November 28, 1935, to Marjorie Black.
According to the Plain Dealer, Eckhart was an “editorial artist for the Press in the 1930s and creator of the comic strip Bizzy Bear.” (There was a 1933 Bizzy Bear by Bob Satterfield and Max Cook in the Toledo News-Bee, which was taken over by Eckhart after about five months) A 1936 issue of Safety Education said:
…Bizzy was a good friend of Cleveland boys and girls long before he began his safety campaign. He appeared in The Cleveland Press every night in a comic strip and illustrated bedtime story by Ralph Eckhart and Edith Oliver Jones. One day a school boy went to Mrs. Jones and asked, “Why doesn’t Bizzy Bear organize a safety club? I’ll bet a lot of kids would like to join.” So Mrs. Jones and Mr. Eckhart talked it over with Bizzy and the next week Bizzy began his safety campaign in his comic strip. At the same time The Press invited all the boys and girls in Greater Cleveland to learn the six Bizzy Bear Safety rules and join the club. And did they do it? Ask Bizzy! He had to hire three more secretaries to help him send out badges to new members! Carl L. Smith, managing director of the Cleveland Safety Council, and a personal friend of the jolly bear, says, “It is in my opinion the most successful campaign ever conducted among school children in this country.”
Eckhart has not been found in the 1940 census. He enlisted in the army on December 12, 1940, according to the U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records at Ancestry.com. The record showed that he had two years of college and was divorced without dependents. The Plain Dealer said he was an Air Force captain and “worked for a time for Radio Station WTAM after leaving the Press. Later he was public relations assistant to the county auditor, John J. Carney….”
Eckhart passed away May 12, 1960 according to the California Death Index. His death was reported in the Plain Dealer, May 15, which said: “…His work in California had been with the Pasadena Independent-News….Surviving him are his wife, Bernice; five sons, Roger of North Olmsted, Gary, Ralph, Dale and Howard; a sister and his parents.”