In 1932 Robert Eschbach was born in the Philippines, the son of missionary parents. He spent much of his childhood traveling around the world, returning to the United States in 1941 to settle in Michigan. Two years later he lost his sight.
He attended public school in Detroit before entering the Ohio State School for the Blind in the ninth grade. He graduated from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, with majors in theoretical music and English; and in 1958 he received a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
The Reverend Eschbach served for nine years in the parish ministry. Then, in 1966, he accepted a fellowship in the Division of Religion and Psychology at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas. The experience persuaded him to begin a career in social work, and he remained in Topeka to earn an M.S.W. degree at the University of Kansas before returning to Dayton in 1969. Eschbach then accepted a job as a therapist at the Eastway Community Mental Health Center in Dayton. His responsibilities were gradually increased until he became community services director. When the character and scope of the agency changed, Eschbach decided to return to the ministry. He and his wife Pat served two churches before he was appointed in 1985 to the position of assistant director of the Ohio Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired.
Bob Eschbach became acquainted with the Federation in 1969 when he was invited to join the Dayton Chapter. He immediately concluded that he had discovered an entirely new way of approaching blindness. He became progressively more involved and committed in his local chapter, and in 1972 he attended the N.F.B. convention in Chicago. It was his first exposure to the national movement, and he returned to Dayton feeling he had discovered the place where he wanted to be. He served as president of the N.F.B. of Ohio from 1973 until 1984. During those years the state affiliate made great strides in unity and achieving progress for the blind. Bob Eschbach has served as a member of the N.F.B. Board of Directors since 1974. He has chaired several committees and currently is President of the National Association of Dog Guide Users, the dog guide division of the N.F.B..
Other appointments include: member of the Consumer Advisory Council to Rehabilitation Services Administration of the State of Ohio; member of the Task Force on Disabilities for the Ohio West Conference of the United Methodist Church; and member of the Disabilities Task Force for the Ohio Council of Churches. Bob Eschbach is also an active member in Lions International, and he and his wife Pat have each participated in the Columbus, Ohio, Area Leadership Program. In 1982 Eschbach chaired the Citizens With Disabilities for Celeste Campaign for Governor.
The National Federation of the Blind is an important part of my life. Being part of an organization which is concerned about what happens to blind people has demonstrated to me the way service ought to be given and responsibilities shared. It is an easy and natural follow-through to my personal faith.
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