Rupert Vaughn Eakin was a tall and imposing man. When I, William C. Lathan, Jr., first met him I was a little taken aback by him but quickly found him to be a REAL Grandfather type. Among my memories are his giving my parents money to buy me my first full size bicycle and his taking me on a personally guided tour of the zinc smelter in Bartlesville, OK (early 1960s). From that trip, I remember two things. First it was beastly hot in the mill and obviously dangerous. It was the only time he ever "Mother Hened" me. And, Second, everyone knew him and apparently respected him even though he had been retired for some time.
He was deaf the whole time I knew him and my mother, Hazel Fay Eakin-his daughter, told me that one of her greatest thrills was talking to him on the phone shortly after she came to Baltimore to work. He had just purchased a body type hearing aid and she said that it was the first time he ever could hear her when on the phone. She also said that his deafness had been caused by Typhoid Fever that he contracted while working as a plumber in Washington State. That would put the time of his hearing loss around 1910.
Census documents, family records and personal knowledge support the fact that while he and his family lived in Bellingham, WA he worked in a plumbing shop. His obituary stated that he had worked in the zinc smelters in Iola, Kansas as a young man. I do not know anything about this however it is very possible as Iola, Kansas figures in many stories that my Mother (Hazel Fay Eakin) and he told me.
He and his family came to Bartlesville, OK about 1916 where he worked for the National Zinc Co. for 33 years retiring in 1956.
Two interesting stories about Rupert Vaughn Eakin are remembered. The first, was about how he and Edna Badgley (his wife) had met. My mother told me that Edna and another young woman (probably a sister) were stuck while fording a small stream in a buckboard wagon. He, being a good swimmer, entered the stream, swam to the wagon where he pushed and pulled enough to encourage the team (horses) to get the wagon back on dry ground. Edna was said to have been, "Impressed", by his bravery and skill. My mother's version sounds a little exaggerated and I never heard it from any one else. Unfortunately, the sisters seldom talked to each other or me as they never could get along for any length of time when together as adults. The second story, sounds very much like him. I say this because on one occasion he got in my face about our cat and my care of that cat which he thought was lacking. My mother told me that they had a neighbor in Bartlesville, "He lived right over there in the white house across 15th Street, except the house looked different then." The man owned a dog which he kept chained in the back yard. The dog was ill behaved, barking constantly. One day the man came out of his house with a stick and beat the dog causing it to bark and howl even more and kept beating it until it eventually quit barking. My mother, Fay Eakin, said she was home and told her father that he should call the police. He said no, that wouldn't solve the problem. He went to his garage secured a length of "2X4" and went over to the man's back yard. My mother, terrified, went with him figuring that maybe she would be needed to carry him home. He knocked on the guy's door and then call the man out into his own back yard where he informed him that what the dog needed was attention and training. He further told the man that if he ever saw him beating the dog again he would beat him with the "2X4" he had, "Lick for Lick". He then suggested that the man give the dog away, he said, "I already have a dog or I'd take him. I also think you should move." My mother's story says the man did both! I mentioned this story to him once and he his reply was that a man has to be smarter than the dog if he wants to own one, and that he had a responsibility to train it correctly. He and my mother as a child owned a number of cats and dogs. Also, I mentioned this story to my Grandmother once. She obviously remembered the incident and was horrified that I had brought it up. He never made a big deal about pets when I was around but any cat or dog got petted and cared for correctly.
Source: Personal knowledge of William C. Lathan, Jr., compiler of this family history.
Rupert Vaughan Eakin's Obituary
Rupert V. Eakin, 79, of 1501 Maple, died at 5:30PM Monday in a local hospital. He had been in ill health for a number of years, but had been a patient only since Saturday. He was born Jan. 8, 1886 in Pittsburgh, Kan. and grew up there. As a young man he had worked in the smelters at Iola, Kan. and came to Bartlesville in 1916. He worked for National Zinc Co. in Bartlesville for thirty-three years before retiring in 1956. He married Edna M. Badgley in 1908 in Springfield, MO and she survives (at time of Obit.). He had three children, daughters: Miss Alice Eakin of the home, Mrs. (Fay) Clark Lathan of Manassas, VA, and Mrs. (Marion) Hugh Celander, of Chicago, Ill., a sister Mrs. Hattie Boyle of Newport, Wash., a brother, Leslie Eakin, of Bellingham, Wash. and two grandchildren. He was a member of First Methodist Church and the Methodist Golden Wedding Club. He and Mrs. Eakin were married fifty-six years at the time of his death. The funeral will be handled by Keeley-Neekamp Funeral home. The service will be held at 2PM in the Colonial Chapel of the funeral home with Rev. Jack Featherston, pastor of the First Methodist Church officiating. Interment will be in the White Rose Cemetery. Casket escorts will be the Messrs. Roger Bell, Miles Gravett, Harold Offutt, Oliver Haywood, Lyle Brown and J. R. McCorkle. A memorial was established for Mr. Eakin to the First Methodist Church and friends may send contributions to the church office.
Source: Obituary in the Bartlesville Oklahoma Examiner Enterprise, Wednesday, May 12, 1965; Thursday, May 13, 1965; and Friday, May 14, 1965. An edited transcription.
His Social Security # 442-07-9597