Earl Neal Eaton, Sr. was born on December 31, 1921, in Lost Creek, WV. His family moved throughout WV, OH, and PA, finally settling in Oakmont, PA, where he spent his young adult life. Neal later lived in Hickman Mills, MO; Park Forest, IL; Nashua, NH; and Dallas, TX. Neal retired to Bradenton, FL in 1987 and passed away there on April 24, 2010.
Neal served in the Army Air Corp during WWII from 1942 to 1946. He was based in Montgomery, Alabama; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and Barking Sands A.F. Base in Kauai, Hawaii -- where as a Technical Sergeant he oversaw the administration of 2,500 soldiers who serviced planes which were headed for combat in the Pacific.
Neal and Elizabeth Jane McMaster were married on August 13, 1942 in Oakmont, PA. They had three children: Jane, Neal Jr., and Nancy. Betty Jane passed on April 18, 1975 in Chicago Heights, IL. Neal married Sally Krizan on June 24, 1978 in Park Forest, IL.
Neal spent his entire working career in the newspaper business. He was an ad salesman, photographer, feature writer, editor and publisher of papers in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois. He also sold newspaper press equipment and was a co-founder and Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Publisher’s Equipment Corporation in Dallas, TX.
Neal’s interests and hobbies included singing, genealogy, working in the yard, and reading. He loved to write and used his talents to publish several books related to his family’s history.
A good listener who was kind, thoughtful, patient, sensitive, caring, charming, funny, clever, witty, smart, and quietly self-assured -- Neal touched all those he met. We are all better for having known him.
Neal is survived by his wife, Sally; two daughters, Jane Eaton-Henderson and Nancy Fritz; four granddaughters, Shannon Henderson, Cory Parlor, Ashley Wisniewski, and Lindsy Fritz; and two great-grandsons, Camden and Colton Parlor. Additionally he is survived by his brother James Eaton, and two sisters, Mary Lou Berg and Martha Lee Collins. Neal was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty Jane Eaton; his son, Earl Neal “Skip” Eaton, Jr.; and two brothers Jack and Donald Eaton.
Neal enjoyed the time he spent in recent years volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Additionally, Tidewell Hospice of Bradenton has been extremely supportive of the family. Neal’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, any memorial gifts be sent to Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee County, 811 23rd Avenue E., Bradenton, FL, 34208 (phone: 941-747-4655) or to Tidewell Hospice and Palliative Care, 3355 26th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205 (phone: 941-782-4900).
Neal's memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 26th at the Manatee Historical Village, 1404 Manatee Avenue East, Bradenton, FL. There will be a time to visit from 3:00 to 4:15 PM in the meeting room of the Higgins General Store. The park closes to the public at 4:30, and that's when Neal's memorial service will begin in the old church there.
Please come early and explore the park. Admission is free. Also, please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the heat, as the church is not air conditioned. In the spirit of celebration, Neal’s family requests that people wear bright, cheerful clothing (nothing somber, please). Join us in an upbeat gathering, filled with happy memories of a very special man.
Neal, I want to thank you:
... For being a fantastic husband to my sister
... For being a loving Grandpa to my three children
... For being one of the best listeners ever
... For always going way out of your way to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable
... For tromping around every theme park in Florida at least a hundred times
... For never complaining about anything
... For showing people what a gentleman and a gentle man really acts like
... For your wonderfully dry sense of humor
... For your service to our country
... For giving my children unconditional love
Some people might say that eighty-eight years is a long time to live, and yet it was still not long enough. Goodbye, Neal, until we meet again. Please say hello to my mom, dad, and Aunt Eula for me.
Mr.James P. Eaton: So sorry to hear about your brother Neal. I only met him once or twice but he seemed like a very nice man who lived a long and wonderful life. Blessings to you and your family. Marti
In the simplest words, Uncle Neal is my inspiration to the kind of man I wish to be myself. I always felt like I was in the presence of such a rare person whenever I was around him. The kindness, patience, desire to help, and humor Uncle Neal always showed was staggering. On top of being such a role model for me, the man was just hysterical. My very first memories in my life are of Uncle Neal and I in the island house, with him making a hot dog out of my arm. He would pretend to put all the condiments on then pretend to eat my arm, so I would keep adding condiments as to not "get eaten." I have so many memories with him, from boating, catching lizards, going out to eat, going to theme parks, seeing him at Thanksgiving, playing Uno and the color game, and even just sitting around relaxing. I have tons of pictures from my childhood of me napping on Uncle Neal's lap. Even now, I remember how comforting it was to fall asleep cuddled into him. While I miss him so much it hurts all the time, I also feel so unbelievably lucky to have gotten the chance to know him. I doubt many people ever get to know someone so pure of heart and kind. I hope that some day, my own nieces, nephews, and grandchildren could think of me nearly as much as I think of Uncle Neal. Of course you will be missed, Uncle Neal. But more than that, you will be revered and respected. I have nothing but the fondest memories with you and I love you incredibly. I'll never forget you either.
Mr. Eaton, although I never met you, I feel that I know you thru your daughter Jane. She is such a good friend and loving person and I'm so glad that she had this time with you. We will take care of her when she gets home and embarks on a different journey with her husband Geoffrey. Jane this is hard now and I want say that it gets any easier but you will remember the good times and sometime a smile will cross your face and only you will know what it is all about. Love ya, girl. Jennifer Odle