Bob Eastburn

Eastburn—Bob Eastburn, 71, on December 8, 2017, at Winslow Campus of Care in Winslow, Ariz., in the arms of his wife. Bob was born on May 17, 1946, in Wilmington, Del., to a Quaker mother. Although she did not often attend meeting, he acquired a sense of what it meant to be a Quaker that would guide him throughout his life. He married Elise Foy in 1968 and graduated from University of Delaware with a bachelor’s in geology and from a Delaware community college with a degree in industrial engineering.

He and Elise moved to Illinois for his graduate study in agronomy, which was interrupted when his professor moved to Israel, terminating his stipend. While they were in Illinois, Elise worked as a nurse’s aide. She applied to nursing school, but was told that as a married woman she would be a corrupting influence on the pure young women learning to be nurses, and she was not allowed to enroll. So she and Bob returned to Delaware, where she became a nurse. Some people criticized Bob for giving up his career for his wife’s career, but to him it just made sense because they were equal. He worked at University of Delaware in agriculture and agronomy and earned a master’s in agronomy. During his work he used his industrial engineering skills to make one-of-a-kind equipment for experimental research. But after discovering that his work might be weaponized by the CIA, he resigned.

He and Elise attended several Quaker meetings: the tiny Appoquinimink (Del.) Meeting, which was under the care of Wilmington Meeting; Fort Meyers (Fla.) Meeting; Third Haven Meeting in Easton, Md.; Santa Fe (N.M.) Meeting; and others, finally ending in Flagstaff (Ariz.) Meeting in 2002, transferring their membership from Wilmington Meeting.

In Flagstaff Meeting they really started to learn in depth about Quakerism. Although Bob hadn’t had much training as a Quaker, he had lived as one throughout his life. He valued the Flagstaff Meeting community and regretted that his Parkinson’s disease kept him from participating more fully in the life of the meeting.

He enjoyed tools and using them to make things that people needed and repairing things instead of throwing them away. He made metal silhouettes of a horse, a cat, a dog, and a parrot, and installed them on the lawn of a veterinarian friend who was prohibited from posting a sign identifying her business. Bob and Elise had no children of their own, but from time to time they took in a friend’s child with ADHD whose hyperactivity was a strain on her parents. They helped her learn to deal with the world. She lived with them three times while she was growing up, bringing them so close to her that they came to see her as their daughter.

Parkinson’s caused him to speak in a loud and boisterous way, which some interpreted as anger; however he was kind, gentle, humorous, and loving. He and Elise Foy Eastburn would have celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at the end of January 2018.


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