Stephen Easton 1928 – 2009
From the Parish News – February 2010
It was like welcoming the return of an old family friend as we gathered together in St. Mary's Church, Denton on Friday 15th. January 2010, but sadly it was to bid our last farewell to Stephen, a much loved and respected ex-resident of both Alburgh and Denton.
Stephen and Fiona came to live in East Anglia during the later stages of his very successful career in publishing, while he was working with Clays of Bungay. They settled first in Alburgh living at the "Long House", then as their family moved on and they found they wanted somewhere smaller, they moved to "Twin Cottage", Middle Road , Denton. It was the case with both villages that almost as soon as they arrived in the community they became involved and made an impression with their presence.
The Service which was led by the Rev. Barry Cramp and Gill Hipwell, revealed what a very closely bonded family they were, and as each of their sons gave their tribute, then with the talk by Barry and Gill, we realised that the part of their lives we had known was in fact the twilight of a very glittering career particularly in the literary context, it also covered many different aspects of Stephen's personal life; his school life with his love of all sports particularly Cricket, Rugby Hockey and running, which led to him becoming School Captain; gaining a Cap playing hockey for W. Scotland; his commission in the Highland Light Infantry Regiment while doing National Service; his spell at Oxford studying philosophy, where he coxed the Oriel Eight. His modesty prevented us knowing too much of this while he was living with us. Through Mark, William and Robert we learned of the deep love and respect they all had for him as a father, how he gave them time writing and telling stories, organising games and recognising them, and later his grand–children, as individuals in their own right. Above all of this was his deep devotion to Fiona, who was introduced to him at a Presidential Ball, a "sparkling and vivacious seventeen year old sister of a good friend", her love and welfare was throughout over fifty years of marriage the most important thing in his life.
We knew him probably primarily as a devout Christian, it was his work for the Church which took first place in both communities, he and Fiona celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary with a service at Alburgh Church and their Golden Wedding anniversary at Diss Church. Stephen served on both Church Councils, and became Churchwarden for Denton, led the Benefice Choir for a while, and sang with the Emmanuel Choir, he collected regularly for Christian Aid. Fiona became a Governor and later Chair of Governors at the Alburgh with Denton School; she played a large part in helping to prevent its closure in the mid 1990's. Recollection of Stephen's performances at Denton pantomimes will never fail to raise a smile, his rendering of "My Ding-a-ling", and dressed in a striped bathing costume "We do like to be beside the Seaside" will never be forgotten!
Barry in his Address summed up with these words, "Stephen was great fun. He loved life and people. He was completely oblivious to class, social or academic standing and just took people as he found them, without embarrassment or false modesty and always with joy". Our sympathy and condolences go to Fiona, Mark and Antonia, William and Suzi, Robert and Kai, Susie and Nic, together with their ten grand–children. We must however give a special thank you to grand–daughters Flora, Elisa and Annis who sang "God be in My Head" so beautifully at the Service, a moment of true inspiration.