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Dr. Douglas Otis EasonJune 1, 1940 ~ July 12, 2017 (age 77)
Dr. Douglas Otis Eason died at The Gordon Hospice House in Statesville, North Carolina, on July 12, 2017. He is survived by Dr. Laurel Ellen Bird Eason, his beloved wife of over 50 years, a son William Alan Eason and wife Sheri of Franklin, Tennessee, and a daughter Lenora Elizabeth Eason Lefew and husband Ken Lefew of Hartsville, South Carolina. Dr. Eason doted on his grandchildren: William Everett Eason, Margaret Elizabeth Eason, Sophia Ellen Lefew, and Isabella Rose Lefew. Dr. Eason is survived by his devoted sister Dr. Carol Susan Eason Whitaker and her husband Lloyd of Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, and by their two sons Jason Whitaker and Adam Whitaker and their children, as well as numerous nieces and nephews, and a host of loyal and wonderful friends as well as students and colleagues too numerous to mention. Dr. Eason's parents, both deceased, were William Joseph Eason and Minnie Mae Otis Eason.
Dr. Eason enjoyed a fifty-year career as an educator, his last professional post that of President of Mitchell Community College where he oversaw the doubling of enrollment, the construction of three new buildings, and the renovation of the historic 1865 Main Building, as well as the redesign of the Statesville Campus and the trippling of the size of the Mooresville Campus. The great joy of these years at Mitchell was the opportunity to work with and encourage literally hundreds of students, to support and lead the faculty and staff, and to enjoy the untiring commitment of the Board of Trustees as well as the support of the Statesville-Iredell Community. Dr. Eason's commitment to high standards in education and his belief that every student should have the opportunity to reach his or her potential was a hallmark of his presidency. A strong supporter of vocational education, Dr. Eason also championed the Liberal Arts and the importance of the acquisition of the skills for life-long learning. Above all Dr. Eason strove to lead by example, even to the point of giving a piano recital with a faculty colleague during the last months of his presidency, demonstrating his own life-long learning. One of his most satisfying tributes was the Mitchell Board of Trustees having named the Student Services Center in his honor, upon the occasion of his retirement. Doctor Eason spent his retirement years in travel, reading, gardening and playing the piano, while being an attentive grandparent and enjoying happy times with family and friends.
Dr. Eason was born in Monticello, Arkansas on June 1, 1940. Growing up in the small farming community of Selma, he always felt that his rural upbringing had grounded him in basic human values and an appreciation for the appearance of talent and ability in unlikely places and circumstances. He attended Selma Public School until he was 16 when he transferred to Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee, when his parents realized that his ambitions would be limited without a more rigorous high school preparation. Dr. Eason was the first person in his extended family to receive a college degree when he graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas in 1963, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. This goal was not achieved without considerable sacrifice, particularly when his father became gravely ill with cancer during the final semester of Dr. Eason's senior year. He consequently left college in order to help at home with the family business and to care for his mother and eleven-year-old sister, both of whom joined him when he returned to Hendrix College the following fall for a fifth year to complete his degree.
Dr. Eason had wide-ranging educational and intellectual interests. In addition to his B.A. degree from Hendrix College, Dr. Eason pursued advanced studies at a variety of institutions in the United States and abroad. He earned the Masters Degree in English from the University of Arkansas; the Certificate de la langue francaise from the Sorbonne in Paris, France; the Sprachpruefung from the University of Tuebingen in Germany; the PhD. in English from Vanderbilt University. He attended the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at Harvard University; an NEH sponsored summer seminar on Romanticism at Yale University; the presentation of a paper on Community College Education in the US at the Oxford Round Table on Education at Oxford University in England.
Dr. Eason's professional career included appointments at Webster Academy in Webster, Massachusetts; the University of Arkansas at Monticello; Vanderbilt University; the University of Tennessee; Pikeville College in Pikeville, Kentucky; Columbia State Community College in Tennessee, as well as his tenure at Mitchell Community College. Dr. Eason published articles on subjects including literature, general education and community college issues, making presentations in those fields. He served on the National Board of Consultants for the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Tennessee Humanities Council; chaired the Information System for the Future for the North Carolina Community College System for ten years, and held offices in other state and local organizations.
Dr. Eason was active in local organizations and philanthropic groups including the Rotary Club of Greater Statesville, United Way of Iredell, Statesville Economic Development Commission, and Fort Dobbs Historic Site. Dr. Eason was a long-standing member of Broad Street United Methodist Church where he served on numerous committees over the years.
Dr. Eason leaves a loving family to carry on traditions and values to future generations. He celebrates his years with his wife Laurel who has been his champion, his friend, and his love through good times and bad. Dr. Eason leaves friends and colleagues without whom these final years would have been immeasurably poorer. He left this world with grace and gratitude for the rich gift of a good and meaningful life.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Broad Street United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 69, Statesville, NC 28687, Hospice of Iredell County, 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625, Fort Dobbs Historic Site, 438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville, NC 28625 or the Mitchell Community College Endowment for Excellence, 500 West Broad Street, Statesville, NC 28677.
His memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 15,2017, at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Statesville. His cremated remains will be strewn in a later, family ceremony. The family will greet well-wishers and friends in Memorial Hall at Broad Street after the service.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.nicholsonfunerals.com and Nicholson Funeral Home is serving the family.
Broad Street UMC
P.O. Box 169, Statesville NC 28687
Hospice & Palliative Care Of Iredell County
2347 Simonton Rd., Statesville NC 28677
Mitchell Community College Endowment for Excellence
500 West Broad Street, Statesville NC 28677
Fort Dobbs Historic Site
438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville NC 28625