Jean K. Eaton died at home with her family on Sept. 30, 2020. She was born Jean Katherine French on Valentine’s Day of 1936 to Amelia and Louis French of Damariscotta. In her youth, she enjoyed playing Monopoly with her friends, and attending parties and dances. Jean was a bright student, and attended The Castner School and Lincoln Academy, then graduated from Colby College in 1958. She met her husband, George M. Eaton, while attending Colby, and they were married by August the year she graduated.
Jean started her career in 1966 so she could hire a housekeeper because she “didn’t like to clean.” At first, she tutored kids in high school and junior high who were struggling in their courses, and they liked what she did. She soon accepted a position tutoring batches of students in a basement room at Lincoln Academy.
Through teaching remedial reading, Jean and two other like-minded educators discovered a group of children with disabilities who had significant unaddressed barriers to education, and found children who were not in public education at all. This was years before the school system legally had to provide education to every student in the least restrictive environment.
Jean was one of the people who worked to find money, went to the school board, and helped found the Longfellow School in Bristol Mills for students with disabilities. She was a change agent, rarely sugar-coated her message, and suffered no fools. Jean continued her career in special education for 34 years, and retired as special service director of Union 74 in 2000.
After retirement, Jean continued to give back to the community through volunteering. She worked on the town budget committee and building committee. She sat on the board to build the new fire department, and spent more than a few hours addressing envelopes for the development office at Lincoln Academy. Jean strongly believed that everyone needs to give to the community. She said it can’t be delegated; we all need to give the community our time, our thought, and our effort.
Jean loved all holidays, but her favorite was Christmas. She enjoyed giving gifts. When her grandchildren were told to behave or Santa would not come, they would counter that it was OK if Santa didn’t come because they had Santa Jean.
Jean was predeceased by her husband, George Eaton of Damariscotta; and her parents, Ameila and Louis French of Damariscotta.
Jean is survived by her brother, Jack French of Edgecomb; her sister, Mary (and Al) Trescot of Damariscotta; her son, Jonathan (and Kate) Eaton of Damariscotta; her daughter, Kate Jordan of Round Pond; her grandchildren, Cameron (and Adam) Reny of Round Pond, Josh Eaton (and Elizabeth Tupper) of Damariscotta, Amelia Jordan of Round Pond, Lindsay Eaton of Portland, and Sam Jordan of Round Pond; her great-grandsons, George and Leon Reny; many nieces and nephews; and many wonderful friends. She is sorely missed.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private celebration of life, and burial in the Hillside Cemetery, will be held for her family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Massasoit Engine Company, P.O. Box 1206, Damariscotta, ME 04543.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main St., Damariscotta. Condolences, and messages for her family, may be expressed by visiting stronghancock.com.