From the UConn Foundation's Our Moment newsletter (June-July 2012)
Charles Eaton II, right, with Lisa
and their son Charles III.Opera didn't become a passion for Charles Eaton II, '76 BA, '79 MBA, and his wife Lisa, '79 BSN nursing, until it became a passion for their youngest son, Charles, who is studying classical voice at UConn. As they attended their son's performances, they came to have a special fondness for opera.
"One time, observing a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, we realized the music, written in the 1800's, had great relevance to life today. Students in the audience were laughing hysterically because it was so real to them," says Eaton.
They also came to realize that the productions at UConn were pulled off on shoestring budgets. "Sets were reused and stored year to year. Clothing purchases and royalties or license fees had to be scrutinized and weighed," says Eaton. "As our son became more passionate about his studies, he would inform us of the excellence of the faculty, including his voice teacher, Dr. Jeffery McEvoy. We decided we wanted to provide some support for opera productions well into the future. "
The Eatons set up an endowed fund for the opera program with a $10,000 gift. It's not the first gift from the Eatons, whose other three children also attended UConn. Giving to UConn is a family matter, says Eaton. Earlier gifts have gone to the School of Business building fund and to the soccer program for purchase of stadium lights. The family established Hamilton D. Eaton Award for Research Excellence in Nutritional Science in honor of Eaton's father, Hamilton D. Eaton, who served as a full professor in the Department of Nutritional Science. Eaton's sister Deborah established the Eva Eaton Scholarship in Elementary Education Fund in the Neag School of Education to honor their mother's years of teaching. His oldest son Nathaniel, along with several classmates, recently established the Young Honors Alumni fund to support the Honors Program.
"As a member of the UConn community, it is easy to give through payroll deduction," says Eaton. "It's something all faculty and staff can do with biweekly contributions as small as $5."
"Even though UConn is funded for most programs, there's always an area of need where a little extra funding can make a big difference," says Eaton, who adds that their gift has been received with tremendous gratitude by Professor Constance Rock, coordinator of vocal studies. "Although the income from the endowment is not so significant, it is important to her in making sure the show goes on."
"Music from earlier times lives on forever," says Eaton. "We will be listening to opera in another 100 years. It touches the human soul, and that's why it's important that major universities like UConn continue to support fine arts."
To support the School of Fine Arts, please contact the Foundation's development department.