Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Iconic Scoutmaster Paul Eason dies at 91

Read the Daily Journal story here:   Paul Eason, longtime Scout leader, Tupelo councilman, dies at 91

Dear Scouting Family,

We are sad to announce the passing of long time scouter Paul Eason, who was born on November 4, 1921, died on July 1, 2013, in Ridgeland.  He was 91.

Paul lived nearly all his life in Tupelo. He graduated from Tupelo High School in 1939 and then went to Ole Miss. He served in the Navy during WWII as a pilot and flight instructor until the war ended.  He then returned to Tupelo, where he married high school classmate Margaret Brooks in 1950. They had two children, Margie and Brooks. Paul spent his career at Milam Manufacturing, Mantachie Manufacturing, and FMC, serving as plant manager and holding positions in safety, purchasing, and human resources.

Paul devoted his life to his family and his community. He is best known as the longtime Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 12.  As the troop's leader, Paul had a profound and positive influence on three generations of boys in Tupelo.
Paul was active in Troop 12 as a teenager and earned the rank of Eagle, Scouting's highest achievement.  After returning to Tupelo after the war, he agreed to become the troop's leader. Paul served as the head Scoutmaster for the next 45 years and then as an assistant for nearly 15 more.  During his almost six decades of working with the troop, 350 boys became Eagle Scouts, almost certainly more than under any other leader of any troop since the Boy Scouts of America was established a century ago. Troop 12's Eagles include Paul's son, three of his nephews, and one great nephew.

Not long after Paul became the Scoutmaster, one of his Scouts suggested that the troop go camping every month. Paul agreed, and a tradition was born, a tradition that has now outlived him.  Since August of 1951, come rain or shine, Troop 12 has gone on an overnight camping trip every month.  On July 12, the troop will travel to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for its 744th consecutive monthly campout, completing its 62nd year without missing a month.  During his nearly six decades as a troop leader, Paul spent more than three years' worth of nights sleeping on the ground in a tent.  In addition to the countless hours he devoted to his Scouts, Paul gave of his time in many other ways. He served on the Tupelo Park and Recreation Commission for a quarter of a century and was chairman for seven years.

He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church and the Chapman Men's Bible Class and drove the church van to and from Traceway Manor to take elderly members to church services. He volunteered with Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to the elderly and disabled, and with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for families in need. He served on the Education Committee of the Community Development Foundation and volunteered his services to the United Way of Greater Lee County.

After Paul retired from FMC in 1986, friends convinced him to run for the Tupelo City Council. He was elected three times as Councilman-at-Large. His fellow Council members chose him to be Vice Mayor, and he served as acting Mayor when the incumbent accepted another position.

Paul received many honors for his lifetime of volunteer service. He was selected as Tupelo's Outstanding Citizen in 1976 and as the Best Man in Lee County two decades later.  He received the Julius G. Berry Award for outstanding service to the United Way, the Liberty Bell Award for community service to youth, and the Jefferson Award for outstanding community and public service. He was chosen to be king of Tupelo's Oleput Festival and grand marshal of the Tupelo Christmas Parade. The first soccer field at James Ballard Park was named Paul Eason Field. On his 90th birthday, Paul was honored with a resolution on the floor of the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Alan Nunnelee. He also received the key to the City of Tupelo from Mayor Jack Reed.

Paul was grateful for the honors he received, but he always remained humble. He was a rare man, totally unselfish, always giving, always thinking of others.  He served as an extraordinary role model for all who knew him - his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his Scouts.  He was a devoted father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He always did the right thing. Paul was preceded in death by his parents, C.C. and Margaret Eason; his wife, Margaret; his three sisters and their husbands, Myra and Bob Leake, Puddie and Guy Ruff, and Doris and Tom Joyner.  He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Margie and Brendan Corrigan of Davie, Florida; his son and daughter-in-law, Brooks and Carrie Eason of Ridgeland; six grandchildren, Megan Corrigan, Ann Lowrey Forster, Shannon Martin, Cliff Eason, Sean Corrigan, and Paul Eason; five great grandchildren, Ada Brooks Forster, Eason Forster, Shane Corrigan, Collins Forster, and Dylan Martin; nieces and nephews Eason Leake, Phil Ruff, David Ruff, Missy Flanagan, Leslie Bobo, Margaret Ann Cargo, and Meg Kruse; numerous great nieces and nephews; and more than a thousand former members of Boy Scout Troop 12. 

Funeral services will be held at noon on Monday, July 8, at First United Methodist Church in Tupelo with visitation at 10:00 a.m. and a reception following the service, both in the Gathering Room behind the sanctuary. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Paul Eason Fund of Boy Scout Troop 12, P.O. Box 312, Tupelo, MS 38802; First United Methodist Church, 412 West Main St., Tupelo, MS 38804; or Methodist Senior Services, MSS Development Office, P.O. Box 1567, Tupelo, MS 38802-1567.

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