Anthony Stephens, marketing director at The Jesse Stuart Foundation, which worked with him on half of his books, said his wife, Joan, had notified them that he died peacefully in his sleep.
Eckert wrote the play that became “Tecumseh,” which has been performed at Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater near Chillicothe since 1973.
He was nominated seven times for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1999, he was honored, along with poet Toni Morrison, as Ohio’s favorite all-time writer. That year also “The Frontiersman” was selected in statewide balloting as the state’s favorite book “About Ohio or an Ohioan.”
Stephens said Eckert had been busy writing his latest book, “The Infinite Dream,” which was another of his books in his “Winning of America” series. The Foundation expected to have it published at the end of summer.
Eckert once said he wrote for 12 years and got more than 1,100 rejection slips before he finally became a published author.
His writing includes more than 225 television shows, which he wrote for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom series.
In 1970, he received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the category of outstanding program achievement.
Besides his 39 books, he published more than 150 articles, essays and short stories.
He was most noted for his historical and natural history books, A number of his works have been translated into 13 foreign languages around the world. Several were selections of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books and several have been major book club selections.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org.