Carol Eastman

Written by Carole Beers in The Seattle Times, 19 October 1997

It was no secret why Carol Eastman was a respected anthropology professor, graduate-school dean and vice provost for international programs in her 27 years at the University of Washington: She could communicate well and she could laugh.

When she moved to Honolulu in 1994 to work as a professor, senior vice president at the University of Hawaii and executive vice chancellor at UH Manoa, she also was a hit.

"She was a very larger than life person, tall and thin, with a great sense of humor and the ability to interact with everyone, from university custodians to politicians in the state Legislature," said her former UW student and present UH assistant, Michael Graves.

"She could reach out to people and hear what they were saying. Even if she disagreed with their opinions, she kept open lines of communication and an open mind."

She had a sense not only of what a research university should be, Graves said, but also of what academic excellence was about, notably for undergraduates, sometimes given short shrift at research schools.

UW Professor Bob Dunnell, who came to the UW in 1967, the same year as Dr. Eastman, praised her joyful, ongoing dedication.

"The way she dealt with this last awful business was how she dealt with life," he said. "She felt, I'm alive today, and I'm going to enjoy it!'"

Dr. Eastman died of cancer Wednesday (Oct. 15) in Honolulu. She was 56.

Born and reared in Boston, she found that her interest in English led to her study of how languages affect and reflect cultures. She earned a bachelor-of-arts degree in English at the University of Massachusetts, and a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin.

She did field work in Africa, wrote on African culture and spoke Swahili. In the 1970s she co-edited a book of classic tales translated from the Southeast Alaska language, Haida.

Her recent research focused on language and power. She was preparing a paper for the National Academy of Sciences on why different linguistic groups exist in the same culture.

Dr. Eastman also was treasurer of the African Studies Association and attended American Anthropological Association annual meetings.

But she knew how to have fun, said her husband of 26 years, John Jacobsen of Honolulu.

"Her work was her life. That and entertaining. Just being with people," Jacobsen said. "She was always fond of big parties. She had New Year's and Fourth of July parties, with lots of people. And we did most of the cooking ourselves.

"We renovated a Victorian house in Seattle's Madrona neighborhood. People we knew would be married there. We had it put on the city historical register."

Dr. Eastman's other survivors include her aunt, Sister Maurana, a nun in Wellesley, Mass.

Services will be held next Sunday in Honolulu. A Seattle memorial gathering in mid-November is pending.

Remembrances in her name may go to Iolani School, 563 Kamoku St., Honolulu, HI 96826. She had served on the school's board of governors.

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Last Revised: 14 December 1998

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