Lighthouse 02

David Emerson Eaton

March 27, 2021


David Emerson Eaton


David E. Eaton of Yarmouth Port, formerly of Needham passed away on March 27, 2021 from Covid-19.  He was 67 years old. He was the son of the late Barbara (Sticklin) Eaton and Laurence Godfrey “Skilk” Eaton. He was the husband of Donna (Mason) Eaton for 45 years. He is survived by his children, Stacey Eaton and her partner, Kevin Sherman of Millis, MA., David M. Eaton and his wife, Nicole of Chelmsford, MA. and Shawn Eaton and wife, Samantha of Charlotte, North Carolina and his grandchildren Riley and Colton. He was brother to Sandra L. Swenson and her late husband Jerry of Burke, VA and Laurence R. “Skip” Eaton and his wife Mary of Needham.  He was the uncle to many nieces and nephews.

David grew up in Needham attending the Harris School, Pollard Middle School and Needham High School, class of 1972. As a child, David enjoyed spending time in the town forest and Needham Reservoir and canoeing on the Charles River. He liked to walk along the train tracks to meet up with his best friend, Henry for their adventures. In the summers, David would camp in the dunes of Sandy Neck and fish. David volunteered for the Needham Science Center and took in wildlife including an alligator, a hawk and a raccoon. David attended Curry College for two years until he joined the family business at the Eaton Funeral Home. He later graduated from the New England Institute of Funeral Service. David became a sixth generation funeral director to join the firm. There for 35 years, he helped many families with their grief and built many friendships in the Needham community.

In the summer of 1968, David met the love of his life, Donna Mason. They started dating in 8th grade. They married in 1975. They built three beautiful homes together as they raised their children. They enjoyed trips to St. Thomas and walks along beaches from the Cape to Key West. Every spring, they would plant their vegetable garden together. They were able to spend 53 years together.  David was a lover of nature, koi fish ponds, fruit trees and birds. He would love to sit outside with Donna and a cup of coffee and take in the view. He would often share his knowledge of nature with his family. David loved seafood and preparing lobster dinners for his family. He was a lover of boxers and bulldogs that were part of his family. David enjoyed taking his children and grandchildren fishing or on boating/beach trips. These were his favorite days.  The love of the sea has been installed in all of David’s children and grandchildren. David, known as “Pappy” loved taking his grandchildren to cut down the annual Christmas Tree at the “Eaton Christmas Tree Farm” and teach them traditions. Pictures from these memories were made into Christmas cards per David’s request.  

David was a member and former president of the Needham Jaycees, he helped build floats for the Fourth of July parades. He and Donna would throw wonderful 4th of July barbecues together for their large family. David was a member of the Norfolk Lodge AF&AM. David was a member of the Medfield Gun Club, where he cooked Sunday breakfasts. David coached Needham Pop Warner Football for numerous seasons.  All his life, David participated in fishing tournaments.  In 2000 he won the Monahan’s Marine Proline Owners Tournament.  When David moved to the Cape, he joined the Bass River Gun Club. 

David retired from the Eaton Funeral Home and decided to follow his lifelong passion of fishing in a nautical career.  In 2007, he became a United States Merchant Marine Officer and a licensed boat captain. David was a Captain of the Intruder Team docked at Sesuit Harbor. He was part of the Northside Fishing Fleet. David participated in many competitive sport fishing tournaments with Wayne, Dick, Billy, Andy and Ricky. He specialized in shark, striped bass and tuna fishing and in custom child friendly trips. In 2020, he won the Angler’s Choice Award from Fishbooker.

David will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have a relationship with him. His jovial presence lit up the room, his laugh could be heard for miles. He inspired others to “put their family first” and “you can do this” when challenged. His family wishes for others to pay forward these messages. 

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, funeral services are private.  A celebration of his life will be planned in the future. 

In lieu of flowers, the Eaton family requests that donations are made to the Captain David E. Eaton Memorial Scholarship at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  Online donations can be made at Maritime.Edu/Give (please select “Other” in the Designation drop-down menu and add: David E. Eaton Memorial Scholarship).  Mail-in donations can be made to: Mass Maritime - Office of Advancement, 101 Academy Drive Buzzards Bay, MA 02532 (Memo: Captain David E. Eaton Memorial Scholarship).

To share David’s love of Cape Cod, please visit Intruder Team


To send sympathy gifts to the family or plant a tree in memory of David Emerson Eaton, please visit our tribute store.


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