Susan Howarth Eastman

Alton | Sunday, March 13 2016

Susan Howarth Eastman, who resided in Alton with her husband of 58 years, Charles Dana Eastman, Jr., died on Sunday, March 13, 2016. 

Born Susan Lois Howarth on March 22, 1936, in Harvey, Illinois, Mrs. Eastman grew up in Springfield, Illinois. She graduated from Springfield High School in 1953, and earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1957. While in college, Mrs. Eastman sang in the women’s glee club, was elected to honor councils, served on more than a dozen campus boards and committees, and was vice president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After beginning a family, she went back to school, earning a Master of Arts (History) from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1984, and a Masters of Arts (English) from SIUE in 1992. 

Susan Eastman was a highly respected and much beloved member of the Alton Community Unit School District, No. 11, where she taught high school history and English for twenty-five years.  She was a knowledgeable local historian, with an ardent interest in the Mississippi River.  Mrs. Eastman authored River Bend, An Area that Knows No Panics (1981), and Federal Promotion of Commercial Barging on the Inland Waterways: 1920-1940 (1984).  She served as a river historian and correspondent-at-large for “The Waterways Journal,” a weekly publication for the inland waterway transportation industry, whose Annual Review she wrote for many years.  While Mrs. Eastman was a member of the Alton Museum of History and Art in the 1970s, she organized and supervised the establishment of the River Room, and for many years maintained exhibits for the museum at Melvin Price Locks & Dam No. 26.  Her enthusiasm for the river led her as well to memberships in the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen and the Upper Mississippi River Buffs.

Mrs. Eastman was an active community volunteer in Alton for many decades.  She led the application of the Alton Junior Service League to become the Junior League of Greater Alton, and as a member of the JLGA, helped to initiate and develop the Sam Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail. She received the JLGA’s Thayer Award for outstanding service to the league and the community.  Mrs. Eastman was also a member of the women’s philanthropic organization P.E.O. 

Susan Eastman is remembered by her family and friends, her colleagues and students, for her boundless energy, passionate can-do spirit, and exceptional organizational talents. When she put her mind to it, there was very little she couldn’t get done, and her enthusiasm inspired others to commit themselves to many worthwhile projects. While raising her three children, Mrs. Eastman volunteered in Scouts, athletics, and classroom settings.  She was a tireless social hostess and admirable craftsperson, well known for Christmas ornaments and decorations made from pinecones and other natural materials. 


Mrs. Eastman died after a long and courageous battle with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalous and Alzheimer’s Disease.  She was the eldest child of former mayor of Springfield, Illinois, Nelson O. Howarth and Mary W. Howarth, and the eldest in a family of five children, all of whom, like her husband and children, drew strength from her resilient spirit, deep loyalty, and abiding love.  She was preceded in death by her parents; her parents-in-law, Charles Dana Eastman, Sr., and Virginia Corbett Eastman; and her youngest sister, Mary Jo Howarth Noonan.  She is survived by her husband, Charles Dana Eastman, Jr., daughter Marynell Eastman, and sons Charles Dana Eastman III (Michele), and David William Eastman (Michelle Mallo). Her husband’s sister Nina Eastman Fay and her family; and her brothers William Howarth and David Howarth and sister Lydia Howarth, and all of their families, join her husband and children in deeply mourning her passing.


The Eastman family is planning a memorial gathering in Susan Eastman’s honor for the summer of 2016.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Alton, Illinois, or to the Mary and Nelson Howarth Scholarship at the University of Illinois in Springfield. 

Elias, Kallal and Schaaf Funeral Home in Godfrey is in charge of arrangements.

Online condolences and guest book may be found at

Obit Provided By:
Elias, Kallal & Schaaf Funeral Home

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