John Murray Eberhard of DeLancey, loving husband, son, brother, brother-in-law, friend and director died unexpectedly as the result of an automobile accident on Jan. 6.
John was born on June 13, 1947 in Towanda, PA, the son of Walter S. and Eleanor Murray Eberhard. In high school he left his mark as a star player and top scorer in basketball and second in the state for long jump for track and field. After graduating from Towanda Area High School, he completed a year at Gettysburg College before entering military service. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969 as First Lieutenant, receiving the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in Viet Nam.
Upon his return from his tour of duty in Viet Nam, he continued his education at Syracuse University earning a B.A. in English/Creative Writing. In 1973 he became employed with the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, earning promotions from Grants Writer to Administrative Assistant and then Deputy Director. During this ten year period he established five county weatherization programs, an Area Agency on Aging, developed a regional rural transportation program and prepared grant applications for local municipalities and not-for profit groups. This led to the creation of services such as day care, a health clinic, water and sewer systems, access roads and economic development. In 1984, he came to Delaware County to become Executive Director of Delaware Opportunities Inc. That same year he met his wife to be, Bonnie Radley and they were inseparable from that time forward, later getting married on March 11, 2011.
Delaware Opportunities (DO) thrived under John’s 34-year tenure. In 1984, DO served 7,000 people and had 100 employees with a budget of $1.5 million. In 2017, DO served more than 9,000 people with 209 employees and a budget of $14.6 million. John served on several boards including the board of directors of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition, the Weatherization Policy Advisory Council (serving as chairperson from 2004 to 2018) and the board of directors of the New York State Community Action Association.
One of John’s proudest accomplishments was the consolidation of all DO programs under one roof in Hamden in 2005. This building was later dedicated to him in 2015 at the agency’s 50th anniversary celebration, where John received the Certificate of Congressional Recognition for 31 years of dedication to the mission of Delaware Opportunities Inc., the NY State Assembly Certificate of Merit for 31 years as Executive Director along with his dedication and commitment to Delaware County and the Outstanding Leadership award from the Delaware County Board of Supervisors “In grateful recognition of 31 years of service to Delaware County and your tremendous sense of community service to all of the residents of this county.” Throughout his career at Delaware Opportunities he continued to pursue the agency’s mission to help people become self-sufficient and attain a better quality of life. He served the people of Delaware County with tireless commitment. John’s dedication to his work was such that he could be found in the office seven days a week.
Besides his passion for work, John enjoyed reading and listening to music such as old blues and Bob Dylan. He was a lifelong Boston Red Sox, Syracuse Basketball and Giants football fan. He had a keen intellect, a remarkable mind and a near photographic memory. John cared deeply for family, friends and co-workers and had a strong sense of fairness and justice. Despite his public profile, John was a shy, unassuming and serious man, with a dry sense of humor and a hearty laugh. A poet at heart, John loved the written word and had a lifelong passion for learning.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Radley; his mother, Elly Eberhard of Sun City Center, FL, his sisters Gini Fiedler of Oakland, ME and Karen (Jim) Doughtery of Sicklerville, NJ, his brother Doug Eberhard of Lancaster, NY, mother-in-law, Greta Radley of Schenectady; sister-in-laws Sharon (Mark) Shear of Voorheesville, NY; Martha (Walt) Kemp and Karen Radley of Schenectady and many nieces and nephews.
John was predeceased by his father, Sid Eberhard, brother-in-law Bill Fiedler and his sister-in-law Terry Eberhard.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of MacArthur Funeral Home in Delhi.
A Celebration of John’s Life will be held at 11AM on Friday, April 27, 2018 at the auditorium of Delaware Academy Central School, 2 Sheldon Drive, Delhi.
Condolences may be made to the family online at www.macarthurfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of John may be made to Delaware Opportunities Inc., 35430 State Highway 10, Hamden, NY 13782. All contributions will be used for one of three programs as needed, Senior Dining Program, the Food Bank or the Big Buddy program.