Catharine Eaton, 92, gave to college, donated land

July 16, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Catharine Eaton, a Western Maryland College honorary trustee and philanthropist, died of heart failure Monday at her Easton home. She was 92.

With her husband, the late Thomas Howard Eaton, she was a major contributor to the college in Westminster. They were recognized for their generosity in 1986, when the lobby of the college's physical education center was named in their honor.

In 1990, Mrs. Eaton was named an honorary trustee and awarded an honorary master's degree. The school's trustees established the Thomas H. and Catharine Eaton Fund for Campus Enhancement last year.

The former Catharine Welker was born in Bethlehem, Pa., and was a 1924 graduate of Moravian Seminary and College. Her late husband was a 1927 graduate of Western Maryland College.

For many years, the couple traveled throughout the country while Mr. Eaton managed various Johns-Manville Corp. plants. At Mr. Eaton's retirement in 1969, they moved to Royal Oak in Talbot County and resided at a home called Three Chimneys. The couple later moved to William Hill Manor in Easton, and Mr. Eaton began a second career investing in Eastern Shore property.

The couple was honored for their donation to the Nature Conservancy of an unusual 190-acre tract in Caroline County. The property near Denton, named the Eaton Wetlands Preserve, has a series of saucer-shaped ponds called whale-wallows that are flooded seasonally.

Some scientists think these watery depressions were created by meteors, but others suggested they were created thousands of years ago by stranded whales that wallowed like hogs and created depressions in the earth.

The wallows are home to colonies of green and blue heron, black ducks, mallards, wood ducks and the carpenter frog.

Mrs. Eaton was a member of Royal Oak Community United Methodist Church, Talbot Country Club, Edge Creek Boat Club, Talbot County and St. Michaels women's clubs, the Women's Society of Christian Service in Royal Oak, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Fellows, Helfenbein and Newnam Funeral Home in Easton.

She is survived by two nephews, James Mensh of Christianburg, Va., and Cary Eaton of Raleigh, N.C., and a niece, Mary Hunter Basden of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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