James “Jimmy” Eaton, 84, and his wife, Donna, 81, died at their home in Tennessee, following a deadly tornado that ripped through the Middle Tennessee town.
James and Donna Eaton had been married for 58 years when they died side by side after a powerful tornado leveled their home on the Catalpa Drive in Mt. Juliet, an area hard hit by deadly storms.
According to Mt. Juliet Police Department Captain Tyler Chandler, the home of the couple was “probably (in) the worst part of the damage.”
Their grandson, Jake Hardy-Moore, told Tennessean that his grandparents were the “best earthly example of what a marriage should look like.”
“They showed Christ’s love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life. They were the ones we looked to when times were difficult, and they kept us pointed toward God and to be dependent on God.”
The Eatons were longtime members of First Baptist Church Mt. Juliet— for more than 40 years— where they remained active until their deaths.
They often visited hospitals with Pastoral Care & Senior Adult Pastor David Fallin. Fallin said that Donna was also a retired business manager at the church and continued to help with office responsibilities.
Pastor Phillip Dunn told the outlet:
“The Eatons represented the very best of First Baptist. To know them was to love them. They carried with them a happy spirit, and their love for their church family was a model to all of us.”
“To know that they were taken from us so quickly in a storm shocks all of us. We can also rest assured that Jim and Donna loved Christ and woke up with their faith becoming sight.”
Dunn later tweeted about the Eatons, saying they were ‘always supportive. Always there. Always cheerful.’ He added:
“We will cherish their lives.”
Four tornadoes wreaked havoc on Tennessee Tuesday in what state officials say was the “second deadliest tornado event in state history.”
Dozens of people are still missing in the Volunteer State, and at least 24 people have lost their lives.
In Mt. Juliet, Tyler Chandler said that one tornado touched down for about seven to eight miles within city limits, killing the Eatons and one security guard in a warehouse.
“I personally continue to drive through the damaged areas and see how everyone has a great attitude and come together to help each other.”
“Sometimes, it takes a major incident to bring a community together, and our community has always had a strong bond, but this has brought us even closer.”
The officer added that the police department offers its “condolences, support and prayers as the community rebuilds together.”