For more than a half-century, William Granville “Mike” Eaton was one of the many friendly and kind patriarchs in Carroll County. He maintains, to this day, a profound influence over who we are as a community.
He taught English and drama in Carroll County Public Schools for 41 years before he retired in 1971; 36 of those years were at Westminster High School.
His dedication, hard work, wit, and wisdom became an inextricable part of the social and intellectual personality of our community. He was born in Centerville on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on June 22, 1908. He passed away from cancer on April 24, 1995
He came to Westminster in 1926 to attend Western Maryland College, where he graduated in 1930. It was in that year that he began his teaching career at Elmer A. Wolfe High School in Union Bridge. He earned his master’s degree, in 1935, from Columbia University in New York.
After a year at Elmer Wolfe, he taught for three years at Charles Carroll High School in Silver Run, before coming to Westminster to teach at the original Westminster High School on Center Street. He was there for only one year before the “new” Westminster High School opened on Longwell Avenue, where he taught for the entire life of the building as a high school, in Room 106.
On June 4, two ‘Mike Eaton scholarships’ were awarded in his honor to graduating seniors from Westminster High School, according to information provided by my wife, Caroline Babylon, in a recent media release. Caroline, along with her mom, Evelyn Babylon, and her sister, Marian Babylon Rognlien, oversee a scholarship established by the Babylon family through the Historical Society of Carroll County, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Carroll County to recognize inspirational teachers. Eaton had been a close family friend of several generations of the Babylon family — ever since he first arrived in Westminster in the 1920s.
In 2000, a number of Eaton’s former students spearheaded an initiative to name a new high school that was being built after Eaton. At the time, the Babylon family wrote, in part, “Eaton was not only a dedicated teacher, mentor, family friend, and promoter of the cultural arts, he was an active member of the community from Kiwanis and Key Club to the American Red Cross …”
“For over three decades, Mike Eaton was Thelma Hoffman’s star boarder at Hoffman’s Inn, now owned by the Historical Society of Carroll County and known as Cockey’s Tavern, its name from when it was built in 1820,” according to the release. On Aug. 22, 2010, the room he lived in for over 30 years at Hoffman’s Inn — now Cockey’s — was dedicated at a Historical Society ceremony attended by many visiting dignitaries from across the country.
The release further explained, Eaton, “also directed plays, and advised the Key Club. He inspired his students to challenge and improve themselves in many ways. He always believed in the great potential of his students to excel, and they have proven him correct.
“Mr. Eaton brought panache to his classroom with his deck of index cards from which he pulled the targets of his well-placed questions. The cards brought their share of insecurity to the ill prepared, but Westminster High School seniors began to discover something, Shakespeare wasn't so bad after all. Mr. Eaton commanded the classroom. Heading the Drama Club at Westminster High School, he also commanded excellence in theatrical offerings…”
According to the release, “The two winning students were Margie Spann and Richard Folderauer. They each received a $500 scholarship and their most influential teacher received an engraved school bell. Mr. Folderauer named Mrs. Melissa Purdy as his most influential teacher. Ms. Spann named Mrs. Kim Saltsburg as her most influential teacher.
“Like Mr. Eaton, Mrs. Purdy is the Westminster High School drama teacher. According to Mr. Folderauer, every year Mrs. Purdy puts her heart, mind, and soul into three productions. She is a director, mentor, and friend to her students. She teaches kids from all walks of life the importance and the joy of performing. By doing that, she gives her students a love for performing and has inspired Richard Folderauer to inspire others with that love of performing.
“Ms. Spann called Ms. Saltsburg an inspirational teacher whom she said was energetic, humorous, and beaming. She made interactive lessons that inspired Spann to anticipate going to class, look forward to studying for tests, and yearn to learn more. All of this happened in Mrs. Saltsburg’s Human Anatomy and Physiology class. While she introduced many to the pungent smell of formaldehyde; in the process she helped Margie Spann flourish in class and introduced her to the medical field, as she now plans to become a doctor…” Folderauer and Spann will both be attending the University of Maryland, College Park.