Mary Elizabeth Lehr Eaton was born April 29, 1923 at St. Luke's Hospital in El Dorado, Kansas to Andrew “Andy” J. Lehr and Flora May Rogers Lehr. She attended St. John’s school for 8 years. She graduated from El Dorado Jr. High and El Dorado High, then attended El Dorado Jr. College, as it was known in the 1940s. She died peacefully October 25, 2018.
WWII was going strong in 1942. Mary began to write to a young man who had worked in Phil McDonough's Grocery Store. He was in the South Pacific Area with a group of SEABEES. She married that sailor, James A. “Jim” Eaton, without so much as a formal date, in Natchitoches, Louisiana on January 20, 1945. They spent almost half a century together raising a family of two daughters and five sons, and working together in approximately 48 businesses until his death.
Most of her life was spent in El Dorado where she and Jim were involved in over 45 businesses, including Eaton’s Style Shop. In 1977, they sold their last store and moved to Enid, Oklahoma where they established, owned and operated Plano Fried Chicken until Jim’s heart attack rendered him unable to work. They worked hand-in-hand in business while she also managed the household.
While in business, they both made significant, unrecognized contributions to the Church and community. Whenever something was needed for a school function at St. John’s, they were among the first contacted. They made many contributions to the needy, extended and forgave credit accounts for many. Unknown to most, teachers were offered a discount on groceries because they believed a strong education relied upon quality teachers, and they recognized teachers’ salaries alone were inadequate to attract the best.
They retired to Meghan Coves in Grove, Oklahoma to enjoy life. Mary continued to live in Meghan Coves after Jim’s death in 1992. She moved to El Dorado in 2009 to be near family.
She was a member of Ladies’ Aid of St. John’s Church, Sewing Saints, Freya (Charter Member), Gerard’s Study Club, Soroptimist Club, Home Demonstration Unit, St. Elizabeth’s Study Club, Disabled Veteran’s Auxiliary (life member), and the 90 Plus Club at the El Dorado Senior Citizens Center. Mary also frequented the YWCA after she returned to El Dorado to stay in shape.
Left to carry on her memory is her surviving daughter, Maggie Gurley and husband Ron (Purcell, OK) and five sons, Roger, wife Marcia (Manhattan, KS), Matt, wife Jeannine (South Lebanon, OH), Mark, wife Jacque (Eureka Springs, AR), Joe, wife Susan (El Dorado), and Jim Jr., wife Pam (Overland Park, KS), 18 grandchildren, and 26 great-grandchildren. Also celebrating her life are her twin sisters Joan Lewis and Ruth Smith, sister Pat Evans, and brother Jim, wife Eleanor.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, daughter Cathy Anderson, sister Judy Badwey, and brothers Dick and Bill.
Her family will gather with friends on Monday, October 29, 2018 from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Carlson Colonial Funeral Home where her Rosary service will begin at 5:00 P.M. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 1:00 P.M at St. John’s the Evangelist Catholic Church led by Father John Lanzrath. She will be laid to rest in Walnut Valley Memorial Park. Memorial contributions in her name may be directed to Butler Community College Foundation, Eaton Family Memorial Scholarship. Please sign her online guestbook and leave a memory of Mary at www.carlsoncolonial.com.
Donations may be made to:
Eaton Family Memorial Scholarship c/o Butler Community College Foundation
901 S. Haverhill, El Dorado KS 67042