By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
Paul Eason, 91, a legendary scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 12 in Tupelo and former three-term at-large Tupelo councilman, died Monday at his son Brooks Eason’s residence in Ridgeland after a period of declining health.
Eason, who had a long career in manufacturing management, briefly served as Tupelo’s interim mayor when Mayor Glenn McCullough Jr., resigned in 1999 to accept a position on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors.
“Mayor Eason loved Tupelo. He worked hard for many years to make Tupelo a better place to live, work, worship and play,” McCullough said Tuesday. “He was successful. Mr. Eason was a mentor to me. He personified servant leadership showing us what it means to be a good Boy Scout.”
Eason was affiliated with Troop 12, chartered and operating under the sponsorship of First United Methodist Church since 1926, for almost 60 years – 45 as scoutmaster beginning in 1947, and in “retirement” as assistant scoutmaster from 1992 until 2007, former scoutmaster Ty Robinson said Tuesday.
Robinson said he had been mentored by Eason as a Scout and had achieved Eagle rank, scouting’s highest, under Eason’s leadership.
“When I moved back to Tupelo I was unloading things from my vehicle to move into the Boggan Apartments, which were on the same block with Troop 12’s Scout hut,” Robinson said. “When I tried to crank my car the battery was dead.
“Paul Eason was at the Scout hut and pulled the Troop 12 van over to jump me off. And then he said, ‘By the way, I need a Citizenship in the Nation merit badge counselor, would you be interested?’ and that’s how I became an adult scouter.”
He described Eason as a kind, patient, persistent scout leader who encouraged boys to seek the best.
Sam Agnew, who succeeded Eason as scoutmaster in 1992, said it is often the case that Boy Scouts don’t fully appreciate the time, energy and detail scoutmasters devote to their leadership post. Agnew said looking back he understands how Eason poured himself into a program he clearly loved.
Agnew and Robinson said Eason began the discipline of a monthly troop campout that reached 743 in June – a succession that began when Harry Truman was president of the United States.
In addition, Eason led hundreds of boys to become Eagle Scouts, a rank achieved by only about 2 percent nationwide.
Jim High, a retired businessman who was a Troop 12 Eagle and later served 19 years as assistant scoutmaster with Eason, said, “I’m sure that in Paul’s (tenure) as the scoutmaster of Troop 12 … he positively affected the lives of more young boys than anyone else in Tupelo ever has. … There has not been and likely will never be another man as truly good as was my friend Paul Eason. All of us who came in contact with him in any way are better off for that experience,” High said.
Neighbor and friend Mike Armour remembered Eason’s personal discipline and stamina.
“He would … cut his large yard and much of the right of way with a 20-inch push mower into his 80s. All the neighbors asked for permission to buy him a nice riding mower as a gift. He said he would push that mower as long as he physically could because he needed the exercise and if he quit, that would be a sign of giving up.”
Scott Reed, a Troop 12 Eagle, requests on behalf of the family that all Eagle Scouts wear their Eagle lapel pins to the service.
Funeral services are set for noon Monday at First United Methodist Church, with W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors in charge of arrangements. A complete obituary is published elsewhere on this page.