John Verne Eason, 93, of Ankeny, and formerly of Clear Lake, died Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at Sunnyview Care Center, in Ankeny.
Having chosen cremation, a private graveside inurnment will be scheduled later for family and friends at Greenfield Cemetery in Greenfield.
John was born April 23, 1926, the son of John Marden and Dolly Marie (Lynam) Eason, in Hartley. He was their oldest child and grew up in Sanborn, with his younger brother, James, and little sister, Joan, affectionately known as “Mutt”. His young adventures included sports and music in school, hunting and fishing outdoors, many summers spent around nearby Lake Okoboji and a job running Sanborn’s movie theater, which gave him an exceptional knowledge later in life of old movie stars and movies.
After graduating from Sanborn High School, class of 1944, John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Pacific theater during World War II, from 1944-1946. He was a Private First Class – Field Music, the company bugler for K Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, 6th Division USMC, so he naturally received the nickname “Music” by his fellow soldiers, and was honorably discharged a Field Music Corporal. His war experiences influenced his life. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service at Sugar Loaf Hill during the Battle of Okinawa where he fought with the remaining Marine Raider Regiment – considered the United States’ first Special Forces unit – and was adopted into their unit. He enjoyed attending their reunions later in life. He struggled with back pain and increasing deafness the rest of his life due to military service, but even in extreme old age he remained proud of his identity as a Marine Raider.
John completed his education at the University of Iowa after WWII, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees to teach history and geography. John taught at the junior high and high school level for many years and consulted with the Joint County System, the precursor to today’s Area Education Association. He completed his career teaching history, geography, and ecology at the community college level in Mason City, at North Iowa Area Community College.
Teaching allowed John some time off in the summer which he intentionally used to pursue activities he enjoyed - family vacations seeing the historical sights and natural geography of this country; fishing trips to Iowa farm ponds, at home in Clear Lake and his beloved Okoboji Lake, and occasionally lake trips to Canada; coin collecting; building models from plastic and balsa; and always reading books – especially historical old west and seafaring fictions. He helped establish, presided over and was active for many years in the Clear Lake Evening Lions Club. He was a proud member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars outpost and a long time Masonic member. He loved old movies and had a good singing voice to sing along with all the old songs.
John had a knack at making friends. He seemed to have a charisma that invited strangers to approach and say hello. While at university, he met Mary Louise Huff and commented to a friend the first time he saw her that he was going to marry that girl. She eventually said yes and he married the love of his life on Dec. 27, 1952, in Greenfield. They had two children, Melanie Kay, in 1960, and John Jay, in 1961.
John was a wonderful man, a devoted husband, and a proud father and grandfather. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Jim; and wife, Mary.
He is survived by two children, Melanie Eason and Jay (Sara) Eason, both of Ankeny; twin grandsons, Wyatt and Zane Eason; and a sister; Joan (John) Horne; two nieces and a nephew, of La Mesa, Calif. He’s now eternally with the love of his life, Mary.
Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, Clear Lake, was in charge of arrangements.