Deacon Francis Eaton dies at 95; funeral is Wednesday at St. Thomas, Peoria Heights

Deacon Frank Eaton

PEORIA HEIGHTS — A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church here for Deacon Francis Leander Eaton, a permanent deacon who served the parish for 11 years prior to reaching senior status in 2008.

Deacon Eaton died at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at his Peoria home. He was 95.

Visitation will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at St. Thomas Church, with a recitation of the rosary at 7 p.m.

Additional visitation is planned a half-hour before Wednesday’s funeral Mass. Msgr. Jason Gray, pastor, is the scheduled principal celebrant. Entombment will follow in Resurrection Mausoleum.


Born June 25, 1924, in Peoria to James L. and Ruth E. (Michael) Eaton, he was the oldest of five siblings. He graduated from Woodruff High School with the Class of 1942 and went on to honorably serve in the United States Navy during World War II.

He married Dorothy P. Knapp on Jan. 29, 1947, and together they had nine children. Dorothy died in 1989. A daughter, Alice, a son, Kevin, one brother and three sisters also preceded him in death.

Deacon Eaton worked as a foreman for CILCO for 33 years until his retirement in 1982.

In 1993, he was accepted into the Diocese of Peoria’s sixth class of permanent deacons. He was ordained by Bishop John J. Myers on May 17, 1997, and appointed to serve St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

Deacon Eaton was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree, Spalding Council No. 427, and was active in Cursillo.

He is survived by two daughters, Susan K. Eaton of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Jeannie (Gene) Pittman of Tecumseh, Michigan; five sons, David E. Eaton, Chuck (Linda) Eaton, and Denny (David Blasco) Eaton, all of Peoria, Jerry (Carol) Eaton of Clive, Iowa, and Mark Eaton of Bartonville; a daughter-in-law, Ann, of Beaufort, South Carolina; 11 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and more than 25 nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to the St. Thomas Education Fund or to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St, Thomas Catholic Church.

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