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A bittersweet goodbye to a long-loved Eagle
Sloane Everett '27, Ruby Hollinshead '27, Kennedy Kuchler '27, and Gracie Nealon '27
The following article was initially written for Volume 41, Issue 6 of the Eagle Edition, ESD's student press publication.
 
In early May of 1981, Eddie Eason walked through the Hart Gymnasium into Father Swann’s office. After a promising interview with Athletic Director Mike Santerino and Head of Upper School Joan Hodges, Eason felt hopeful that ESD might be the right place for him. As a senior at SMU, Eason was looking for a job to kick start his career. Fr. Swann hired Eason on the spot. He came looking for a job out of college and ended up finding his life’s calling. Now, after 43 years on the job, Eason will hang up his many hats he wore at 4100 Merrell Rd. and is ready to retire at the end of the school year.

Once hired, Eason first worked in the P.E. department. He coached for all three seasons, as most
coaches did in the ’80s. “I coached JV girls volleyball and cross country,” Eason said. “I’ve coached [boy’s] volleyball, [boy’s and girl’s] basketball and baseball. I’ve helped with softball. I’ve coached [girl’s] tennis.”
 
Alum Beall Carothers ’87, P’25, P’27, remembers when Eason coached his baseball team. He
appreciated Eason’s sense of humor and self-effacing manner. “Mr. Eason provided an engaging atmosphere for each individual on his various teams to meld into a more closely knit ‘team’ in the truest sense,” Carothers said. “I was not a great athlete, but many of my fondest memories of my days at ESD occurred while under the leadership of coach Eason.”

In addition to coaching, Eason has held numerous other positions. He taught math, was upper school assistant dean, upper school dean and, at one point in the ’90s, head of upper school. “I loved and hated [being head of upper school],” Eason said. “What I noticed about my job was that I spent more of my time dealing with adults than I did kids. That’s not the reason I got in this business in the first place.”

Eventually, Eason discovered his passion as director of the outdoor education program. He believes that the connection between this program and the school’s founding is one of ESD’s best attributes. “Father Swann didn’t ring a bell and send people to class,” Eason said. “He took [his students] out camping on the beach in Galveston.”

According to Eason, the outdoor education program perfectly embodies the school’s founding tenet of community. “A lot of prep schools do school really well, and we do too,” he said. “But I thought that was always our niche in the market. We do relationships better than anyone else.”

Despite countless cherished memories, his most treasured moments at ESD were the ones where he was present for his own kids’ accomplishments. “I got to call my kids’ names at graduation and be there when they got their diplomas,” Eason said. “I got to see them play their sports and see my daughter singing in the chapel and in musicals.”

The impact that Eason leaves on this community is one of dedication and compassion. Ann and Lee Hobson Head of School David Baad recalls Eason’s welcoming spirit when Baad himself first took the position in 2018. “Mr. Eason invited me to drive up to Wolf Run,” Baad said. “He gave me what I would call a cultural download, for which I will forever be grateful.”

Director of the Eason/Lutken Outdoor Education Program Davis Felder ’06 has known Eason since he was a student at ESD himself. Felder admires Eason’s forgiving nature; when Felder was a sophomore, he made a poor decision on a camping trip and was sent to talk with Eason, who was the dean of upper school at the time. “I was a little nervous, [and] a little concerned that I had really messed up,” Felder said. “But when I saw Mr. Eason, we talked through what happened. He was really understanding and very fair. I always remember Mr. Eason and how fair he was.”

In 2016, Eason asked Felder to work with him at ESD in the Outdoor Education program. “It was so fortunate that he called me to work for him,” Felder said. “It's kind of funny, you know, you’re a kid and you see him at his office. And then he asks you to come work for him.”

Felder believes that Eason is the epitome of a shepherd. Fr. Swann recognized that in him the first day. “Father Swann talked a lot about hiring shepherds,” Felder said. “Those are teachers who come here because they want to be here. They want to teach kids, and they spend all their extra time doing the things, whether it's helping a student or going to a sporting event.”

Current upper school students echo Felder’s sentiment. Junior Katelyn Hurt, who babysat Eason’s
grandkids, can attest to Eason’s still impactful presence in this community. “He is so inspiring and very wise,” Hurt said. “I connect him with ESD so much. He is ESD, and for a lot of people, I think he is.”

Baad agrees that one of Eason’s best qualities is his dedication to Fr. Swann’s founding tenets and his devotion to making each student feel valued. “One of the sort of enduring parts of Mr. Eason’s legacy as an educator is his dedication to Fr. Swann’s story about the shepherd,” Baad said. “You know, if you lose one of your 100 sheep, you leave the 99 and go find the one. To me, ESD does a very good job of making sure that all children are part of who we are. Mr. Eason embodies that in his work here.”

As Eason spends his last weeks working at ESD, Felder prepares to continue Eason’s legacy in the Outdoor Education program. “You know, I think we're gonna have some big shoes to fill as a community, because some of the history, the knowledge that he has of the school is pretty amazing,” Felder said. “I'm looking forward to continuing to try to be a shepherd that makes other teachers want to be shepherds too.”

Eason’s selflessness is apparent in everything that he does for ESD. His priority has always been the happiness and well-being of his students. “It was never about me,” Eason said. “This 43-year journey was not about me. It’s about the 7,400-plus days of school that I’ve been here, about all the students that are going through here.”

In his retirement, Eason hopes to spend more time with his grandchildren. “I have five grandsons, I can play chase and if I want to catch them, I can still do that right now. I want them to remember a very healthy, active grandfather,” Eason said.

Even though he is retiring, Eason plans to stay connected with the ESD community. “I’ve told Mr. Felder that if he’s ever in a bind and needs somebody to throw a backpack on, I’ll go,” Eason said.

This community will miss his presence and wishes him a fulfilling retirement. “I'm personally grateful for his friendship and how he made a new guy feel very welcome,” Baad said. “He will forever be one of the sort of giants in the history of this place. All the joy that he's going to have
in retirement, it's well deserved.”

Now, after 43 years of contributions to a variety of departments and positions, Eddie Eason is retiring. His many years at ESD will always hold a special place in his heart. “It never felt like a job,” Eason said. “There were never any Mondays in my world.”