Ned Eichler

The Savings and Loan Debacle Displays America's Historic Inability to Centralize Credit

Ned Eichler

had much to do with the success of Eichler Homes, helping develop the firm’s marketing strategies in the early 1950s, and its efficient system for buying materials in bulk and packaging them for delivery to job sites. But Ned, who died March 27 at age 83, did much more during a busy and productive life.

He died at his Tiburon home, his wife Ava said. The cause of death was Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia, she said. Ned Eichler is survived by sons David and Steven, daughter Gina Tomaselli, stepdaughter Erika Elliott, and granddaughters Taylor and Catheryn Elliott, and Sarah and Lauren Eichler. A memorial will be held later this spring.

Ned died on the day of longtime Eichler saleswoman Catherine Munson’s memorial service, an event he and Ava had planned to attend.

A strong-willed man and a natural leader, yet a man who was different in many ways from his father, Ned Eichler built several related careers, in real estate development and financing. Working for the Victor Palmieri Company, he also helped disentangle and dispose of the properties that had belonged to the Penn Central after the railroad firm and conglomerate went bust in the early 1970s.

As an offshoot of that venture, Ned Eichler became president of a homebuilding firm that far exceeded in size anything his father ever owned, Levitt Corp., builder of Levittowns.

Ned also served as chairman of the California Housing Commission in the early 1960s.

A graduate of Dartmouth -- he always regretted not going to Columbia instead -- Ned served from 1952 to 1954 with the Signal Corps in France and Germany, much of the time playing golf, a sport at which he excelled.

Ned wrote several books about 'merchant builders,' new towns, and 'The Thrift Debacle,' about the savings and loan implosion of the 1980s. He also wrote an unpublished memoir, and spent much time in later years writing short biographies of writers and political leaders (Marx, Keynes, Otto von Bismarck, Willa Cather, Colette, among others).

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