Gladys M. Eaton|
Aug. 13, 1921 – Jan. 22, 2014
Gladys was born on the great plains of Seneca, Kansas to August and Anna Ronnebaum. Upon graduation from St. Peter & Paul's High School in 1939, Gladys followed her sister Bernice to the sunny shores of southern California to work for the family of a Warner Brothers cameraman in Hollywood. In 1941 Gladys joined Bernice and her husband in Oakland and worked as the office manager in a medical group where she met her future husband J. Lloyd Eaton, a pulminologist.
Marriage to Lloyd in 1956 began a new career of world travel where photography became a lifelong passion for Gladys, traveling extensively to capture the seasons from California's desert flowers to New England's fall colors. It was a group of doctor's wives who introduced her to bird watching, a hobby which lasted as long as she could pick up her binoculars, and included many travels to exotic bird sanctuaries.
She also was active in her community through the Women's Auxiliary of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association and was Chair of the Alameda County Heart Association in 1960. Gladys served as Chair of the Christmas Seal Drive for Alameda County in 1967 and was a member of countless boards and nonprofit organizations associated with the medical profession and outreach services.
Following Lloyd's death in 1968 Gladys became involved in the Oakland Museum as a docent in Natural Sciences and History, followed by her tenure as a Member of the Women's Board of the Museum where in 1976 she served as co-chair of the White Elephant Sale. A lifelong learner, Gladys embraced new ideas and new challenges with gusto. She always characterized herself as a "professional volunteer" who spent time and money on the community causes she embraced, always giving back to the community where she spent so many happy years.
One of Gladys' special causes was the UC Botanical Gardens where she became a board member and the "go to" person for any activities at the Garden. Her last years were spent expanding her artwork and continuing to learn through the Oakland Art Association and generously giving to scholarship funds at the Oakland Academy of Art. For the last 20 years of her life Gladys rediscovered her childhood hobby of watercolor painting, producing a prolific portfolio of beautiful landscapes that memorialized her many travels.
Gladys was preceded in death by her husband Lloyd, sister Bernice Buessing and brother Quentin Ronnebaum. She is survived by her brother Werner Ronnebaum of Seneca, Kansas, Lloyd's children and grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.
Friends and family are invited to a Celebration of Gladys' life on Saturday, March 8 in the Women's Board Lecture Hall of the Oakland Museum, located at 1000 Oak St in Oakland. The celebration will begin at 11:30 am followed by a luncheon at the museum. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in her name to the Natural Sciences Department of the Oakland Museum.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 23, 2014