Robert John "Bob" Eaton died of natural causes at Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett, Idaho, on Jan. 25, 2014. He was born to Howard and Mary Jane Eaton on Sept. 18, 1935.
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Bob lived his life with an appreciation of the past, an incredible ability for enjoying the present and huge amounts of optimism for his future generations. He cut a wide swath with his larger than life charisma and it is no exaggeration to say that anyone who ever met him soon had a funny story to tell.
Bob grew up in Emmett, hunting and fishing and causing mischief with his brother Don. He graduated from Emmett High School in 1953. He attended Boise Junior College, finishing in 1955 with his associate's degree in business. Because he was a member of the Idaho National Guard during his time in high school and college, he was able to fulfill his service to his country by joining the Navy after his graduation.
Although his time in the Navy gave him the opportunity to see the world and make many lifelong friends, once he returned to Emmett, he swore he would never live anywhere else. On this matter, he never faltered. He met Juanita Ybarzabal soon after his discharge from the Navy and they were married the following year, 1960. Bob always admitted that he couldn't believe his luck in convincing her to marry him and move to his hometown.
Together they had four children: Marie, Ted, Anna and Catherine. Always proud of his own children, he was especially fond of bragging about his 13 grandchildren. In fact, a highlight of his last year was attending his eldest granddaughter's wedding.
Despite being busy with work and kids, Bob always had time for hunting and fishing with his buddies and family. No pheasant, duck or goose was safe when he and his entourage headed out. He was also deadly with a rifle and always kept the freezer full of elk and venison. His hunting camps were legendary.
Bob was an avid outdoorsman, honing the skills he acquired while working as a hired hand for the Gem County Cattleman's Association during the summers while he was in high school and college. This experience gave him an enduring attachment to the unique beauty of the high country of Idaho and the interesting characters he met in the mountains. There was no one more skilled manning a pack string or telling stories (big windies) around a fire. He passed this love of the mountains on to his children via many exciting family camping trips into the wilderness area. The stories of those infamous adventures will be Eaton lore forever.
Throughout the years, Bob worked selling cars, real estate and custom built guns. He operated Big Creek Outfitter and Guides and was a volunteer for the Emmett Fire Department. When he was less able to get around in the mountains, he often traded his gun for a camera and never lost his love for the outdoors.
Bob leaves behind his wife of 53 years, Juanita; his children Marie (Greg) Lathrop, Ted (Susan) Eaton, Anna (Jim) Eaton-Merkle and Catherine (Butch) Fisk; his 13 grandchildren and grandson-in-law; and his brother Don (Irene) Eaton and his sister Shannon Roark.
He was preceded in death by his father, Howard Eaton and his mother, Mary Jane Eaton.
Services will be held in Emmett at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. There will be a Vigil Service at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 and a Funeral Service Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 at 1 p.m. under the direction of the Potter Funeral Chapel in Emmett.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Walter Knox Memorial Hospital and Sacred Heart Catholic in Emmett. In honor of their Txitxa (Basque for Grandpa) his grandchildren ask that everyone remember his rule and give at least three hugs a day.
The world is a bit smaller without his big heart in it; he will be missed.
Published in Emmett Messenger Index from Jan. 27 to Feb. 26, 2014