Gladys Eaton Dies at 92

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Her husband’s collection of science fiction books launched renowned Eaton Collection at UCR

By on March 4, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Gladys M. Eaton, whose husband’s collection of science fiction books formed the basis of UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, died Jan. 22. She was 92.

A memorial service will be held March 8 in the Oakland Museum in Oakland, Calif.

Mrs. Eaton met J. Lloyd Eaton, a pulmonologist, while working as an office manager in a medical group in Oakland. The two married in 1956. She was active in charitable and nonprofit organizations, among them the Women’s Auxiliary of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, the Alameda County Heart Association and the Christmas Seal Drive in Alameda County. She was an avid photographer, served as a docent at the Oakland Museum and on the board of the UC Botanical Gardens, and supported scholarship programs of the Oakland Art Association.

Her husband, J. Lloyd Eaton, was a pioneering science fiction fan in Northern California whose collection of some 7,500 books — many of them dedicated to him by their authors — was acquired by UC Riverside in 1969, a year after his death.

In an article published in the Oakland Art Association newsletter in August 2007, Gladys Eaton recalled her efforts to catalog her husband’s collection while they were married. The Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy originated with those volumes and has grown to more than 300,000 items. It is the largest publicly accessible collection of its kind in the world and draws scholars from North America and around the globe.

“Mrs. Eaton was very devoted to Lloyd and has been very generous to UCR,” said Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections & University Archives at UCR. “She was a steadfast supporter of the Eaton Collection and Eaton Conference. I enjoyed our many years of friendship and will miss her very much.”

Mrs. Eaton was preceded in death by her husband, sister Bernice Buessing and brother Quentin Ronnebaum. She is survived by her brother Werner Ronnebaum of Seneca, Kan., Lloyd Eaton’s children and grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

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