Clyde Eagleton

Clyde Eagleton

Clyde Eagleton, an Eastsound resident for 20 years, died in the Friday Harbor Life Care Center March 23 after a lengthy illness.

He was born December 16, 1926 in New York City, and lived his early years in Bronxville, N.Y., son of a New York University faculty member and Rhodes scholar. He was an active Boy Scout, earning his Eagle Scout rating, and ran on the high school track team.

An early influence on Clyde was a six-month trip to China with his parents in 1935 at age nine. His father was then on sabbatical leave from his teaching position.

Their Presbyterian family was one with a long history of active participation in missionary work in the Far East.

As a young man he engaged in a variety of jobs, including on tobacco and onion farms, as a crew member on a Hudson River tour boat; and teaching ballroom dance, from which experience he developed a lifetime love of dancing.

In 1947, while employed as an intern at the United Nations in New York City, Clyde was instrumental in promoting the UNICEF Halloween program, in which American children went door-to-door soliciting money for hungry youngsters throughout the world – a program that continues in a modified form today.

He attended prep school in Asheville, N.C., then entered Harvard University in 1944, where his studies were interrupted by the military draft. A strong interest, and competence, in foreign languages (including Russian) was put to use during his Army tour of duty, which included postwar interviewing of Japanese generals in Kyoto. He returned to Harvard, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948.

Clyde attended the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. Then, like many other U.S. college graduates after the war who hoped to become writers, he lived for some time in Europe – England, Scotland and a year in Torremolinos, Spain. Like most of his fellow expatriates, he did not end up writing, but he became competent at playing volleyball on the sandy Mediterranean beaches.

After his European residency he returned to the United States, settling for a time in Longbow Key and Sarasota, Fla., where he pursued diverse career paths ranging from a partnership in two successful photography studios to agriculture, which consisted of an ill-fated attempt to grow and market lichee nuts, an effort that ended when his entire crop was laid to waste by a record freeze.

He spent some time visiting Haiti, where he was overwhelmed by the poverty and by the courage of the people.

In 1962 he married Dorothy Fowler. The couple crossed the country to settle in Berkeley Calif., where many of his cousins lived in the Bay Area. There, Clyde launched and worked as a broker in Freeholders, a realty firm that began and flourished even in the face of the often-tempestuous ‘60s – years of social and political unrest and campus riots that rocked Berkeley along with much of the rest of the country. One of his tenants was Jerry Rubin, a leading student activist. Clyde’s business interests in California also included partnership in Sumiko Inc, an importer of top-of-the-line stereo equipment from Japan.

Clyde loved both high-performance automobiles and professional racing, driving his own Porsche on such prestigious courses as the Brans Hatch track in England during the 1950s and his BMW on the Laguna Seca track in California in the early ‘80s. He also loved music and had wide-ranging tastes, from Dixieland to classical.

His favorite sports were tennis and bicycling. And he had an abiding love of cats.

In Eastsound he served nine years on the board of Orcas Highlands, and was a member of Orcas Center Visual Arts committee, Orcas Island Chess Club and Orcas Island Camera Club. He continued to pursue his career in professional wedding and portrait photography and his love of acting, as a participant in the Orcas Radio Theater.

Clyde will be remembered as a most compassionate man, one who had the rare faculty of recognizing only the good in other people, and – perhaps rarer still – one who could be counted on to detect the humor in almost any situation. He immensely enjoyed telling stories.

Clyde is survived by his wife, Dorothy Fowler Eagleton of Eastsound; and his son, Terence Myles Eagleton; daughter-in-law Ayako Uki-Eagleton, and grandson Theodore Myles Eagleton, all of Winchester, England; and Pippin Eagleton (family cat), now age 19.

No memorial service is planned. However, friends wishing to honor Clyde may do so by making a contribution to Orcas Family Health Center, a 501 nonprofit organization: 1286 Mt. Baker Rd. Contributions aid persons who have no health insurance.

Submitted by Clyde Eagleton’s family.