Florida Trail Association

Remembering Karl & Betty Eichorn

Karl & Betty Eichorn
Passed in 2017
FTA President (Karl)
Indian River Chapter: 
Trail Maintainers (Trail Masters in Tosohatchee)
FTA Award: Cornelia Burge 1986

In Remembrance of Karl & Betty Eichorn
by Doug Sphar

I met Karl and Betty Eichorn when they were running the Wilderness Shop, a camping supply store, in the late 1970’s.  They told me about the FTA and subsequently invited me on a hike they were leading at then Prairie Lakes State Park (now part of Three Lakes WMA).  Karl was a WWII veteran, who was accorded an Honor Flight to Washington, DC in the late years of his life.  He worked as a Systems Engineer for an aerospace support contractor for Air Force missile launches at Cape Canaveral.  There, he met his wife, Betty, who was a data analyst for the contractor.  After he and Betty retired, they opened the Wilderness Shop in Cocoa.  My understanding is that Karl was FTA president during the early Jim Kern era of FTA.  When the state purchased Tosohatchee in the late 1970’s, Karl played a key role in the negotiations for a FTA constructed and maintained trail system there.  In early 1980, when there was a move to downgrade Tosohatchee from a Florida State Preserve to a State Reserve to allow the introduction of hunting, Karl and Tosohatchee Section Leader Bill Arbuckle, traveled to Tallahassee to appear before the Governor and Cabinet to argue the case for Tosohatchee remaining as a State Preserve.  They did not prevail and Tosohatchee became a State Reserve in 1980 and in 2006 a Wildlife Management Area.  I worked with Karl and Betty when they were TrailMasters at Tosohatchee.  In the mid 1980’s Karl gave up active hiking due to bad knees, but he and Betty continued service to the Indian River Chapter by manning the FTA table at festivals and other events.  Karl and Betty were avid birders and were active in the local Audubon Chapter and they traveled around the country in a VW microbus to engage in birding.  Karl and Betty also enjoyed kayaking, especially at the 1000 Islands at Cocoa Beach, where they had a home. Both Karl and Betty passed in 2017.  Karl was well into his 90’s.