Eddie Gene Oehlers, known affectionately to many as “Eddie O”, was born on July 12, 1938, in Port Houston, Texas, to the late Angie Mae Gaston and Fred Oehlers. Eddie passed away on Saturday, January 26, 2008, leaving behind a legacy like none other.
Visitation will be on Tuesday, January 29 from 5 to 8 pm at Forest Park East Funeral Home at 21620 Gulf Freeway in Webster, with the funeral service
on Wednesday, January 30 at 10 am in the chapel. (Bolivar and Galveston residents are advised to U-Turn at Exit 25.)
Burial will follow the ceremony at Houston National Cemetary. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, February 3, at Gilchrist Baptist Church in Gilchrist.
Eddie had four brothers and one sister, and is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Kenneth Oehlers and Larry Gaston, and his father-in-law, Allen H. Roberts. Eddie is survived by and will be deeply missed by his loving wife of 28 years, LaNell Oehlers, daughter Grace Ecoff and husband John and only grandson, Logan Ecoff, daughter Dori Fairman and granddaughters Lauren Fairman and Kelley Fairman, brother George Gaston and wife Lydia, brother Robert Gaston and wife Lois, sister Sarah Mae Eisenberg, Godchild Jeff Gaston, and a host of nieces and nephews. Eddie also leaves behind his mother-in-law, Jane O. Roberts, sisters-in-law Janie Kopycinski and husband Raymond, Harriett LaFoy and husband Joe, Marilyn Roberts, and Peggy Waters and husband Jimmy, brothers-in-law Allen H. Roberts II and Fred A. Roberts and wife Vicki, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews and his beloved pet, Crystal Girl.
In addition to his many relatives, Eddie leaves behind his extended family of countless and devoted friends, all of whom he loved dearly. Eddie was especially grateful for the concern, care, and companionship of his friends who gave endlessly of their time and support during his illness for the last two years.
Eddie spent his early childhood year in the Port Houston area where he attended local schools. Upon graduation from Milby High School, Eddie proudly joined the U. S. Navy where he served for four years, receiving an honorable discharge in July 1963. Eddie’s Navy years were the beginning of the sense of pride he felt for his country, a pride that grew stronger with each passing year. Eddie was a true patriot in the strongest sense of the word. Many would say that Eddie’s blood must surely have been red, white, and blue as he loved his country, his fellow country men and women, and most especially “God’s Country” on his beloved Bolivar Peninsula. One of Eddie’s last directives to his brother George was to remember to pray for our troops.
Eddie was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1963 and he and wife Elaine returned to the Houston area to raise their family. Eddie began his career in the trucking industry, under the employ of Parker Bros. where he worked for 25 years. Eddie and LaNell were later married in 1978 and he continued working in the trucking industry as Vice President of T, Inc., at one time the largest trucking business in Texas. Eddie realized his dream of owning his own trucking business in 1991 when he started Midway Trucking Co. Eddie loved the trucking business and knew it well. While affiliated with the trucking industry, Eddie worked actively in the Sand and Gravel Motor Carriers Association and the TMTA Association, and lobbied tirelessly before the Texas legislators on behalf of the trucking industry.
Eddie and LaNell spent most weekends at their beach house in Gilchrist, Texas, where he later retired to live out his life, as he chose to refer to it, as a “beach bum” on his beloved Bolivar Peninsula. Eddie was hardly a beach bum, as he worked tirelessly on the improvement of the Peninsula. His accomplishments in this regard are many and are appreciated daily by the citizens of Gilchrist. One of Eddie’s first efforts for improving the Peninsula was having Highway 87 designated as an evacuation route, obtaining such designation for the highway and ultimately bringing Federal attention and funding to the area. Eddie worked diligently with the Galveston County elected officials to secure geo-tubing for Gilchrist, ultimately saving hundreds of homes and businesses from storm waters and erosion. Without Eddie’s hard work and many trips to the State Capitol and an uphill battle with the General Land Office, Gilchrist would still not have the protection provided by the geo-tubing. Eddie worked with the Texas Department of Transportation to have the outfall ditches cleaned in order to minimize flooding and at the time of his death, was continuing his work to bring restoration to the highway between High Island and Sabine Pass, serving on the committee charged with conducting an environmental impact study to re-open the highway, and was working with the Texas Department of Transportation to bring better ferry service to the residents and visitors of Bolivar Peninsula. Eddie was responsible for gaining the Federal government’s attention to the Gilchrist area through his work with the American Beach Erosion Coalition in Washington, D.C. Eddie was a founding member of the Galveston County Erosion Task Force, an organization founded for the purpose of fighting and stopping erosion along the Texas Coastline, and was a founding member of the Gilchrist Community Association, where he served as President for ten years. Eddie was instrumental in bringing improved water service to the Peninsula from the LNVA Canal while serving on the Board of Directors of the Bolivar Special Utility District, a governmental entity to which he was elected and on which he was still serving at the time of his death.
Eddie is credited with saving Rollover Pass from extinction. As with all of Eddie’s efforts for improving life on the Peninsula, he worked with enthusiasm to bring funding to Rollover Pass to pay for services to assist the disabled. He had a passion to make fishing accessible for the disabled and especially for the veterans disabled while serving our country. Facilities which enabled the wheelchair bound to roll directly up to the bank for fishing were the result of Eddie’s tireless efforts.
Eddie initiated the Relief Fund to extend aid to those in times of need and worked with others in the Bolivar community to buy, prepare, and deliver Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to those needing assistance. Eddie was honored and recognized on many occasions for his hard work to improve Bolivar Peninsula, including three that were very special to him, his induction into the Hall of Honor of the Pioneers of the State of Texas for his work in improving the great State of Texas, recognition in 1999 as Bolivar’s Citizen of the Year, and receipt of Special Congressional Recognition in 2000 by Congressman Nick Lampson for outstanding and invaluable service to his community.
Eddie was a member of the Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, served on the Board of Directors of Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, was appointed to serve on various committees by the Galveston County Commissioners Court, and was a graduate of the Leadership Conference of Texas, a nine-county organization dedicated the economic life of SE Texas. It is believed by many residents of Gilchrist that were it not for the love and devotion that Eddie had for his self-proclaimed “God’s Country”, and for his many years of hard work and personal monetary contributions, that Gilchrist, Texas would have already vanished into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eddie was a daily and devoted champion for the rights of the poor, the disabled, and most especially, the veterans of our country. A man of integrity, conviction, and character, Eddie spent his entire life willing and ready to help anyone needing his help. Eddie served his communities well, both while in the Houston area and on Bolivar Peninsula. Eddie was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks where he served as Exalted Ruler for a period of time, The American Legion, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department where he was a Deputy, and was a long-time member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Eddie loved what all American men love – fishing, hunting, and boating, as well as a rousing game of dominoes and 50s music, but most of all he loved for his home at the beach to be filled with a crowd of people – that was when he was happiest. A crowded house meant a house full of people he loved and who loved him. Eddie’s only exception to his usual desire for a house full of family and friends at all times was on Thursday evenings during his favorite television show, “Smallville” when he and long-time friend Keith Zahar would watch the show intently and Eddie invoked a “no talking” rule.
As Eddie grew sicker during the last year of his life, he told LaNell on many occasions that one of the things he looked forward to was seeing so many of his old friends in Heaven, especially his friend and “partner-in-crime” on the Peninsula, Dan Kohlhofer, with whom he always enjoyed a good argument and has really missed since Dan’s untimely death in 2004.
Eddie will be missed more than anyone can even begin to imagine, but he has left us all with a lifetime of precious memories.