Jim Eikner
James Edward Eikner, Jr.
  • 82 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 30, 1933
  • Place of birth:
    Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • Date of passing: Mar 9, 2016
  • Place of passing:
    Memphis, Tennessee, United States
You've gotta have heart. All you really need is heart. When the odds are sayin' you'll never win, that's when the grin should start. - Richard Adler & Jerry Ross - Damn Yankees

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The WKNO tribute "Remembering Jim Eikner" airs at the following times this week (preview video):

Channel 10 -- 
    Thursday, March 24  7:30p-8:00p and 12:00a-1:00a
    Sunday, March 27  11:30a-12:00p
WKNO2 --
    Saturday, March 26  2:30p-3:00p

Services for Jim were held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, with reception following. Seersucker and bowtie were worn by many, and seersucker corsages were available. Memorials may be directed to WKNO, Rhodes College, and Idlewild Presbyterian Church, 1750 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104. 

Jim Eikner

By Jody Callahan of The Commercial Appeal
March 10, 2016
(Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal) 

Jim Eikner (by Jody Callahan)  

When asked about Jim Eikner, his friends and colleagues invariably responded with similar descriptions.

"Southern gentleman." "Class act." "Sweet soul."

"Possibly one of the most Southern gentlemen I've ever met," said Brent Davis, who directed Mr. Eikner in a 2013 production of "On Golden Pond." "A class act. Somebody who always knows the right thing to say at the right time, and who always knows how to make everybody feel welcome and comfortable, regardless of the situation."

Added Randall Hartzog with Theatre Memphis: "He was the epitome of a Southern gentleman. He loved a straw hat and seersucker jackets. ... Always so kind, upbeat and congenial."

For 28 years, Mr. Eikner filled a variety of roles at WKNO-TV, becoming both the voice and the face of public television in Memphis. He passed away Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 82.

"(He was) a Renaissance man. He was an actor, a singer, a writer, a great public speaker. I had nothing but admiration for all the talents and skills he had," WKNO president Michael Labonia said. "He always had a story. He loved to tell jokes. I think everybody that came in contact with him had some kind of recollection of him and how he was."

Mr. Eikner, also a devoted Sherlock Holmes fan, was known through Memphis not only for his on-air and voice-over work for WKNO, which included their pledge drives, but also for his great love of the arts in general.

"Jim represented WKNO for so long, and he was such a nice person and gentle soul, that all of us in the arts community, we enjoyed working with the WKNO stations," said Mike Detroit with Playhouse on the Square. "He was one of the main reasons why. That's why the arts community has such a strong bond with WKNO."

In addition to his work singing and painting, Mr. Eikner also acted in numerous plays and other productions, including not only fare such as "On Golden Pond" but even a bit part in a local spoof film called "Fraternity Massacre at Hell Island."

Mr. Eikner perhaps gained his love of acting from his time at Messick High School. He appeared in several plays there in the early '50s, including "You Can't Take It With You," "Stage Door" and "Best Foot Forward."

From there, Mr. Eikner attended Southwestern, now known as Rhodes College. He also attended law school at the University of Tennessee. Davis drew a connection between Mr. Eikner's law experience and his love of the arts.

"I think that he is just a performer at heart. A lot of what he did in his jobs with WKNO were presentational, having to appeal to people's emotions, to get them to contributed to the station. He has an actor's heart, just by the nature of who he is," Davis said.

But Mr. Eikner's interests didn't only include the arts. He was also a member of the Rotary Club for more than 20 years, and was serving as the group's president at the time of his death.

"He really loved the city of Memphis and I think he felt Rotary was one way to make a huge impact on the city," fellow member Pierre Landaiche said. "He made the meetings fun and interesting. Although he was one of the oldest members of our club, he probably had the youngest spirit. That's what we'll miss about him."

Other stuff about Jim --
The Commercial Appeal 
The Best Times
Memphis Flyer 
Assorted memorabilia
Rhodes Toast (2007)
WKNO Videos (assorted)  

Articles etc.
The Best Times (2012 article by Tom Jordan)  
Porchscene.com (2013 blog entry by Jim)


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by BettySue McGarvey on 16th March 2016

"I got to know Jim through being a member of the Rotary Club of Memphis. He was the true southern gentleman, and you couldn't help but to be caught up in his zest and enthusiasm for life. I will so miss Jim's smile and humor. I am thankful to have known him."

This tribute was added by Coni Stevens on 16th March 2016

"I have volunteered for many years at WKNO, as have countless hundreds of people.  So I did not expect to be noticed by him as I came and went at all hours at the station. But I never crossed paths with him that he didn't speak to me, with a smile and kind word. Truly a beautiful person. We were blessed by his presence in this world.  My condolences to all who knew him."

This tribute was added by Antoinette Cheney on 16th March 2016

"He was the best upstairs neighbor I ever had. He will be missed."

This tribute was added by Maureen O'Connor on 16th March 2016

"Dear Maury and Family, your dad was a legend!  He had a miraculous way of making everyone feel good and welcome.  He kept us all laughing and on task.  I will miss him greatly.  His spirit will always be alive at Rotary. He was simply 'smashing'!"

This tribute was added by don hutson on 16th March 2016

""theologian Dr. Phillips Brooks said 'Few things are more powerful than the contagion of a victorious personality'.  He must have known Jim Eikner!  Jim left a legacy that will touch people for decades.  Thank you for your contagion, Jim!""

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This memorial is administered by:

Flip Eikner
Kim Justis Eikner
Maggie Lee
Maury Tower
The Strain Family


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