March 29, 2022 - The Hampton History Museum honored two of its founders by naming the museum's garden courtyard for former Mayor Jimmy Eason and his wife, Midge, who helped raise funds build the museum, which opened in 2003.
Hampton History Museum Executive Director Luci Cochran said the dedication was "in honor of the seeds they planted through their love of community."
The Midge Eason and Hon. James L. Eason Garden Courtyard is a lovely, landscaped section that runs in front of the building, to the right of the front entrance.
Ann Gordon Evans, longtime friend of the Easons, said: "When the museum was but a dream, Midge and Jimmy gave their hearts and souls to the museum effort." Evans noted Midge Eason's love of gardening and longtime membership in the Hampton Roads Garden Club. That club, along with the Huntington Garden Club, coordinated the refurbishing of the courtyard.
The founding of the museum was a public-private partnership, with the mayor championing the project for the city and Midge Eason among the founding members of the non-profit Hampton History Museum Association.
Mayor Donnie Tuck thanked Jimmy Eason for the tremendous role he has played "in respect to the very fabric of this community" and noted that, with the exception of official meetings, "I have never seen you not side-by-side" with Midge Eason.
Former City Manager Bob O'Neill noted that "leaders who are truly transformational use the word and, because it's not just one thing." As mayor, Eason's vision included not just the Hampton History Museum, but also the Hampton Roads Center business parks, reclaiming the downtown waterfront, and improving the Coliseum area. Mayor Eason not only had vision, said O'Neill, but he ensured "the connection of the vision and execution."
Even today, noted Midge Eason, "We drive around the city and Jimmy says, 'Look what's been done, but look at the potential' (for the future of Hampton)."
"I don't think anyone emoted a love for their community the way Jimmy did," noted Terry O'Neill, community development director.
Despite all that Jimmy Eason accomplished as Hampton's mayor and later director of economic development, Evans said, "his most important decision Jimmy ever made was to ask Midge Eason to marry him."