KENOSHA — Racine fixture Mark Eickhorst, also known as “Mr. Racine,” died Thursday afternoon.
Eickhorst, 66, was diagnosed with lymphoma in March which spread to his throat, lungs and digestive tract. But after a round of chemotherapy, he made the difficult decision to forego treatment and instead live out his remaining time in a hospice at Hospitality Nursing and Rehabilitation in Kenosha.
A fixture in the community for years, Eickhorst was involved in various organizations including Real Racine, Downtown Racine Corp., Empty Bowls, the Racine County Food Bank, Racine Tavern League, Racine Lutheran High School, Fourth Fest, Animal Crackers, Racine County Fair, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Ray and Dan’s Rendering Thanks, and Corporate Volunteer Council.
He played a big part in the community for many years and hosted “It’s All About Racine,” a show focused on Racine and the city’s positive qualities on WRJN (1400 AM) for nearly 15 years.
Eickhorst received the nickname “Mr. Racine” from former WRJN Program Director Don Rosen. Eickhorst made a connection with Mayor John Dickert and Eickhorst briefly served as the city’s first public information officer in Dickert’s administration.
“There’s a reason he is called ‘Mr. Racine,’” Dickert said in May. “He is 100 percent positive. All he talks about is the positive in the community. He’s always celebrating the things going on in Racine. We need more people like Mark. He’s earned the title ‘Mr. Racine.’”
As a show of gratitude, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave proclaimed April 7, 2016, as “Mark Eickhorst Day.”
Community comes together
Hundreds of people showed their support Sunday at a fundraiser for Eickhorst. Bob Evans, a longtime radio co-host and close friend of Eickhorst, helped put together a fundraiser at Roma Lodge to help cover Eickhorst’s medical expenses. Evans said Eickhorst wanted to attend the fundraiser but was not healthy enough.
“I’ve never seen this number of people from the community coming together for one person,” Evans said that day. “You might say it’s for a cause, but it’s bigger than a cause; it’s for Mark Eickhorst.”
Eickhorst only lived a few more days after that event. He was also honored during Tuesday’s Fourth Fest parade in Downtown Racine.
“It was a long road, and his faith in Christ was firm, and he was ready to go home,” the Rev. David Gehne of Trinity Lutheran Church and School said Thursday. “He really was ‘Mr. Racine.’”