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John William Easton

May 08, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • John William Easton sits in his beloved 1957 Ford Thunderbird in front of his home in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about John William Easton, who died April 27 at the age of 83. His obituary was published in the April 29 edition of The Herald-Mail.

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- When John William Easton became a grandfather for the first time 40 years ago, he really took the "job" seriously.

"My father told me that Pap would take his lunch break from T.H. Compton Trucking, eat half of his sandwich on the way to our house, rock me in his arms for a half-hour and then go back to work, eating the other half of his sandwich on the way," said John's oldest grandchild, Kimberley Olson of Purcellville, Va.

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She said Pap gave her a lot of grandfatherly attention because of her exclusive claim to him for a number of years.

"Pap would take me fishing," Kimberley said. "I would hold the pole while he baited my hook."

Kimberley's mother, Linda Easton, described her father-in-law as a wonderful man who made her feel like a member of the family from the time she met and married Gary Easton -- John and Mary Easton's only child.

"John was very soft-spoken ... he never had a harsh word for anyone," Linda said.

When Linda married Gary, who died in 2006, Gary had two children and Linda had one. Together, they had Gary William Easton Jr., who was known as G.W.

"Pap was always working on something," G.W. said of his beloved grandfather. John had a wide selection of tools and a knowledge of how things were supposed to work -- a talent he always was willing to share with family and friends.

Throughout his life, John had a passion for cars. He bought them and fixed them up, then drove them and showed them at many classic car venues throughout the area.

"We were side by side working on cars," G.W. said. "Pap and I did fix-ups as well as complete restorations."

Some of John's cars now are in Belgium, according to G.W., who said some of those classic vehicles were in great demand by collectors.

He worked as a mechanic with Kirk Ford in Hancock from 1952 to 1965 and with T.H. Compton Trucking in Berkeley Springs from 1965 to 1974, and was a truck driver for Fulton Petroleum Sales in Hancock from 1974 to 1986.

John was a member of Junior Order of United American Mechanics Council 117 and Mountain State Cruisers, both in Berkeley Springs, the Mason-Dixon Auto Club in Hagerstown and the Antique Automobile Club of America.

All who knew him agreed he was a tinkerer and an expert in antique automobile restoration.

Another passion was gardening, which G.W. and Pap did together each and every summer.

"He showed me how things were done," G.W. said. "Pap was a jack-of-all-trades and a model citizen."

Sister Mary Lee Faraclas said she always called her brother Bill rather than John.

"Bill was always working with his hands, saying he could fix anything but a broken heart," Mary Lee said.

In his youth, a Stanley Steamer was a favorite old car.

"The trunk of that car WAS a trunk," Mary Lee said.

Describing her brother as the rock of the Easton family, Mary Lee alluded to his calloused hands and his muscular arms.

"He helped everybody in the Berkeley Springs and Hancock communities," she said.

Friend Virgil Porter first met Bill when he moved from Baltimore to Berkeley Springs in 1993. Virgil settled on a piece of property that once was part of the Easton homeplace.

"It was rundown then and I fixed up the barn and the fields like they had been when Bill's parents had the land," Virgil said. "He was so proud of that."

From then on, Virgil said he and Bill were fast friends.

"He was a good neighbor ... the best you could have," Virgil said.

Over the years, Bill told Virgil the history of the land he had adopted.

"I'm going to miss him like a big brother," Virgil said.

Toward the end, health problems began to plague everyone's favorite fix-it man and he was unable to do the things he wanted to do.

But G.W. said he often would notice Pap's hands moving like he was using a tool to work on something even when his hands were empty.

Old habits are hard to break, G.W. said.

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